Southport firefighters have come out in support of Labour’s Liz Savage after slamming cuts made by the Liberal Democrats and Conservatives.
Gathering outside the local station with the Labour Parliamentary candidate for Southport, they pointed to the 1 in 5 firefighters cut by the Lib Dems and Tories since 2010 and the knock-on effects it has had on their role, with safety fears an ever-present concern.
The Fire Brigades Union has revealed that record numbers of rescues nationally are stretching the already overburdened service thin and described it as “a matter of public safety”.
Between 2010 and 2015, the Lib Dems and Tories cut funding to the fire service by 30% resulting in the loss of some 11,000 firefighters. Since then the Tories have cut funding by another 15% on top.
Merseyside’s fire service has been hit worse than most, losing just under a third of its firefighters, as the region’s Brigade Chair, Lee Hunter, explained as he joined Liz and some of the Southport station crew members:
“Merseyside Fire and Rescue Service has been hit disproportionately by government, with a 52% cut to our revenue support grant. Between 2010 and 2020 our firefighters will be reduced from 927 to 642, with our fire engines covering the region cut from 42 to 30.”
“This has already had terrible consequences here. For instance, despite decades of decline in fire deaths in Merseyside, there’s been an upward trend since the cuts and they actually trebled in five years – from 5 in 2010/11 to 16 in 2015/16.”
“We are backing Liz Savage because we know that she wants to see real investment back in all the emergency services and that will mean public safety increases once again.”
“We are certain that only a change to a Labour government will enable sufficient funding to reverse the cuts that have hampered fire services and endangered the public for too long.”
Liz Savage says she is delighted at the support she received from the fire crew members:
“I’m very appreciative as our firefighters in Merseyside and across the country do an amazing job and they have had to do that under increasingly difficult circumstances thanks to the Lib Dems and Tories.”
“The strain they’ve been placed by the brutal cuts inflicted upon them is unforgivable – it must stop and Labour will make sure it does.”
“The likes of Boris Johnson and the local Tory MP, and the Lib Dems want people to forget that they voted for and inflicted those cuts. The awful consequences lie at their door.”
Labour’s Liz Savage (Centre) flanked by FBU Brigade Chair Lee Hunter and Cllr Sean Halsall, with Southport firefighters