A plan drafted by the fire chiefs in response to cuts of £24 million over the next four years has ignited a row between two local politicians. Saddleworth Parish Councillor Ken Hulme and Saddleworth North Councillor Derek Heffernan have met head-on in a disagreement over the potential outcome of the plan.
Ken Hulme feels that the changes will significantly affect fire services in Saddleworth whilst Derek Heffernan claims that this ignores the facts about the changes in the GMFRA plan and without these changes, it is likely that there would have to be a rise in council tax.
To read a full account of this story in the Oldham Evening Chronicle click here.
This is the latest response from Councillor Hulme
Reply to Cllr Heffernan – Saddleworth’s Fire Service Cutbacks
In his astonishing attack on me in last Wednesday’s Chronicle (26/10/2011) Cllr Heffernan accuses me of ‘ignoring the facts’ about the cutbacks in fire service Saddleworth now faces. Just what facts are these that I have ignored? The main facts are a) Mossley Fire Station which is one of the fire stations that serves Saddleworth has had its response time to 999 calls raised from 7 to 17 minutes. b) Over £23 million is to be cut from the Greater Manchester Fire Services budget in the next 4 years. c) At least 200 firefighters are to lose their jobs.
I think these facts add up to a serious cause for concern about safety in Saddleworth. I suggest Cllr Heffernan reads the Chron’s editorial ‘Response Time Fears’ in last Monday’s edition (24/10/2011) which rightly pointed out ‘ if you are in a blaze and need help, statistics won’t put the fire out – only the brave, highly trained firemen, and every second counts. Again we ask, what price fire safety?
Apart from being behind the times on the role of female fire-fighters, the Chron is spot on. Cllr Heffernan’s complacency on such an important issue is truly astonishing – especially from a Councillor supposedly in charge of our fire service.