Monday, January 18, 2010

Fire Stations Closures - National Responsiblity

At the moment one of the biggest local political issues here in Stratford is the re-organisation and closure of a number of fire stations across the district. Both the local Labour Candidate and the Lib Dem candidate have latched onto it as an electioneering issue for the forthcoming general election. Below is an open letter regarding the issue.

Dear Sir

I was somewhat surprised to read the letter from Mr Rob Johnston, the Labour Party’s prospective parliamentary candidate for Stratford, in last week’s Herald. In it he suggested that people should vote on the closure of fire stations at the general election, something that I would have thought would do his prospects of becoming MP for Stratford, no good what so ever.

It was after all his own party, in 2003, who passed a law that repealed section 19 of the Fire Services Act, the result of which was to allow fire stations to be closed as part of a modernisation process.  In fact it was John Prescott, then deputy Prime Minister who argued in the House of Commons that this law needed to be repealed as it “makes modernisation on the ground more difficult”

I would suggest then, that Mr Johnston is either ignorant of his own party's actions and priorities or is just cynically attempting to jump on the bandwagon of Tory bashing surrounding this issue.

I also see that Martin Turner, the Liberal Democrat’s prospective Parliamentary Candidate, has also chosen to jump on the band wagon, in a recent post online, by a Lib Dem Supporter in relation to fire service cuts, I have read that he is apparently “already on the battleground making friends” and Mr Turner himself has recently stated in a quote to the Stratford Observer that “the fact is the Conservatives are now deeply unpopular in Stratford”. At the same time both current and prospective Liberal Democrat Councillors have been keen to pounce on the issue as an electioneering tactic.

I was therefore interested to see that on a national level the Liberal Democrats seem to be portraying a very different message and, like the Labour party, have helped enact legislation that makes it easier for the decisions to close our local fire stations to be justified. Perhaps our local Lib Dems do not know that it has been the result of Liberal Democrat lobbying in parliament that has led to sections of the new Equality Bill being extended to cover Fire Services that were not part of the original bill. Obviously extending equality legislation to include Fire Services is no bad thing, but these sections relate to regulations that allow the redrawing of fire cover to reflect “social inequality”, the ultimate result of which is the closure of fire stations in better off rural areas such as Warwickshire in favour of their positioning in less well off urban locations.

I do hope that at the forthcoming general and council elections the representatives of both the Labour and Liberal Democrat Parties will not forget the actions of their national masters, and that neither will the electorate.

Yours faithfully

Simon Smethurst-McIntyre

Related Content

No comments:

Post a Comment