Nick Smith MP Labour MP for Blaenau Gwent
The South Wales Fire and Rescue Services’s fleet of 150 lease cars are proof they are cutting too deeply in the wrong places, according to Nick Smith MP.
Since the announcement that Blaina fire station is under threat of closure, Mr Smith has been demanding answers from SWFRS.
Despite understanding the fire service’s need to make drastic cuts -; up to 12% of revenue over the next three years -; he believes more could be done to protect front line services.
In particular SWFRS’s company car fleet, used by top fire chiefs, managers and support staff who need to go out in the community, is too much for a service with only 750 station based staff, according to the Blaenau Gwent MP.
After meeting with the Chief Fire Officer, Mr Smith has now requested a cost breakdown for the fleet alongside other secondary costs.
Supporting the campaign to keep the station open, including meeting with several of the 16 retained staff who could lose their jobs, Mr Smith said: “I find it hard to believe a service needing to slash millions from its revenue budgets chooses to close stations while a quick glance at the car park could provide a solution.
“I know a few less vehicles would not cover the £250,000 yearly saving closing somewhere like Blaina would be.
“But it makes it hard to believe everything is being done to save our service when there is one car being leased for every five full time firefighters.
“I have been shown the numbers that claim Blaina’s loss will have absolutely no impact on Blaenau Gwent’s chances in the case of a fire.
“But when you are informed the closure will add two minutes and 30 seconds to response times in the immediate area, it seems strange to say there will be no impact whatsoever.
“This is a station with a history of triumph and sadly tragedy, and has a key place in the community as a provider of jobs.
“Closures should be kept as a last resort -; and at the moment I am not convinced that is the case.”