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County’s Labour group opposing fire service plan

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The county’s Labour group has voted down the chief fire officer’s plans to restructure the fire service. Although the group is not a decision making body and has little power over the county council’s policy, members overwhelmingly voted against plans to replace fire stations in Blyth, Cramlington, Ashington and Morpeth with two PFI-funded stations in Pegswood and West Hartford.

Following presentations from both fire crews and the chief officer Brian Hesler, the group raised concerns over slower response times and a possible reduction in full-time fire crews. Colin James, Northumberland FBU chair, said: “It seems the county’s Labour party has reinforced what we have been saying from the start, and that is that the chief officer’s proposals can not guarantee two fire engines in ten minutes to anywhere in the south east of the county.

“In fact it will provide a much worse response than what is in place at present with the existing fire stations located in the four main towns.

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