A call is being made by Middlesbrough Council to put on hold controversial plans for change in Cleveland Fire Brigade. Worried councillors want more details about the changes from fire chief John Doyle.
The Cleveland Branch of the Fire Brigades Union is balloting its members on strike action over the changes.
They include a switch of emphasis to preventing fires, Middlesbrough's Marine fire station being operational only between noon and midnight, a hydraulic platform being taken out of service, and 66 front-line firefighters switching to work in the community to prevent fires. An amended motion was overwhelmingly accepted by the council which expressed the authority's concern about the change plans, pointed to the number of high risk sites on Teesside, and asked that the Chief Fire Officer should put on hold the plans for change pending a presentation to the council and discussions on the proposals.
The FBU is also to be invited to give its views to the council.
The council's requests are likely to go before a meeting on June 30 of the Cleveland Fire Authority's Executive.
Cllr Ken Walker said the plans would mean 66 less firefighters "at the coal face". He supported efforts to prevent fires but it should be achieved through a recruitment programme.
The Mayor, Ray Mallon, said he had met John Doyle and the executive officer Ian Hayton but believed he did not have "all the flesh on the bone" of the issue.
Hazel Pearson, the Conservative Group leader and a fire authority member, said the decision on the Safety Improvement Plan had been taken by a Labour-controlled fire authority.
She said there had been plenty of consultation - pounds 15,000 had been spent on the consultation exercise. It included a leaflet being sent to all councillors with a questionnaire.
Ian Hayton, Cleveland Fire Brigade's Executive Officer, told the Gazette any request from the council would be a matter for the fire authority to consider.
Written by Evening Gazette - Middlesbrough
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