Julian shares this latest news from Island Labour. Ed
Island Labour is deeply concerned about the proposed changes to the Island’s fire services. These changes were pushed through by the Conservative council despite serious opposition from firefighters last week.
Combined fire authority
In addition, there is a further ongoing consultation underway recommending the creation of a combined fire authority, which would subsume the Isle of Wight fire service into a much larger Hampshire authority.
Take together, the proposed changes to the fire service are wide-reaching, and have several implications for the Island.
- A potential reduction in the number of firefighters from 58 to 50
- A reduction in the number of firefighters on each appliance
- The Isle of Wight’s influence on future decisions being greatly reduced with just one representative on a combined Hampshire authority
- The loss of local publicly-owned property on the Island, which would transfer to the new Hampshire authority
Deeply troubling on several levels
Island Labour Chair, Julian Critchley, said:
“These cuts to the fire service on the Island are deeply troubling on several levels. In the short-term, we obviously face as an Island a reduction in the level of service, with fewer fire-fighters and potentially fewer appliances available.
“That is obviously a risk to the safety of Islanders and their property, and firefighters have made this point repeatedly, only to be ignored by the Conservative councillors.”
Loss of independence
He went on to say,
“In the longer term, I’m concerned about the loss of independence and autonomy which would arise from joining a combined Hampshire authority. At the moment, fire service decisions on the Isle of Wight are take in the sole interest of the Isle of Wight.
“As part of a larger Hampshire authority, our voice would be relatively insignificant. It would be much easier for a combined Hampshire authority to decide on yet more cuts to services, or to sell off property on the Island. I think it’s important that this move is resisted in the interests of the Island.
“Ultimately, this comes down to a matter of trust. Who do you trust to have your best interests at heart when it comes to ensuring we have the fire service we need: the firefighters who oppose these changes on safety grounds, or the Tory council pushing them through to save money?”
Image: © With kind permission of Allan Marsh