CLAIMS by the Fire Brigades Union (FBU) that firefighting budgets could be channeled into policing after local fire authorities lost their bid to stop a takeover from West Mercia’s Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) have been dismissed.
The FBU had warned Hereford and Worcester and Shropshire fire and rescue services could face cuts of £4million under the takeover.
And it slammed claims from the PCC, John Campion, that the cuts could be implemented without affecting emergency cover.
Andrew Scattergood, FBU West Midlands regional secretary, said: “It’s dangerously misleading for the PCC to suggest he can cut £4million from existing budgets without affecting emergency cover.
“Control room staff are firefighters and are trained to provide vital fire survival guidance calls – scrapping their posts or merging with policing services is simply not safe.
“Firefighters provide a humanitarian service, which often allows access to areas of the community that the police sometimes struggle to engage with.
“We’ll keep fighting until this hostile takeover stops. This is a serious matter of public safety.”
However PCC Campion said the concerns raised by the FBU were deliberately misleading and amounted to little more than scaremongering.
“Their suggestion that fire budgets could be cut in favour of policing is nonsense,” he said.
“Money for each individual service is legally protected. As such, it would be illegal to take money given for fire services and use it for policing.
“The issue of public safety has been formally scrutinised, most recently by a high court judge. It is clear that rather than damaging public safety, there are actually some significant benefits single governance would enable.”