Firefighter cutbacks 'will put lives at risk'
MP Oliver Heald and leading councillors have united in condemning plans to cut Royston firefighter positions. Royston's MP Mr Heald, along with County Councillor Doug Drake, and Councillor F John Smith, leader of North Hertfordshire District Council, clai
MP Oliver Heald and leading councillors have united in condemning plans to cut Royston firefighter positions. Royston's MP Mr Heald, along with County Councillor Doug Drake, and Councillor F John Smith, leader of North Hertfordshire District Council, claim proposals to alter firefighting arrangement will "put lives at risk". A protest letter has been sent to Cllr Robert Ellis, leader of Hertfordshire County Council, Cllr David Lloyd, who was responsible for the draft community safety plan in which the proposals emerged, and county chief fire officer Roy Wilshire. The letter demands that plans to cut the number of full-time firefighter positions in Royston from 12 to eight should not be approved. It says the proposals will not improve the service, but "downgrade the service and put lives at risk". Others who have signed the letter are county councillor and district councillor Tony Hunter, Cllr Bill Davidson, Cllr Fiona Hill, and Cllr Howard Marshall. The letter states that Royston has "one of the largest chemical factories in the county" in the shape of the Johnson Matthey plant. It also condemns the analysis carried out in creating the plan, which does not include call-outs to emergencies in Cambridgeshire. "This accounts for 40 per cent of calls attended by Royston Fire Station," it says. The letter claims that the number of hours when Royston has guaranteed cover will drop by 66 hours under the new proposals. The letter added that there would be a reduction in the service which "cannot be implemented without increasing the risk to our community". Cllr Drake said: "I don't know how much we can hope that the plans will get shelved. "It looks like it's going to be quite a struggle, and I can't be sure of how many people will get behind us. "They are not very happy at County Hall with people like me opposing this, but I do so because I feel the people of Royston are bearing the brunt of the cuts. "Unless there are positive changes, I will be voting against the plans." - A protest petition containing more than 6,000 signatures calling for the plans to be scrapped, has been presented to the county council by 70-year-old veteran campaigner Terry Hutt.