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Fire Station (Shipley)

Volume 602: debated on Monday 9 November 2015

1. What estimate he has made of the cost to the public purse of the planned reorganisation of fire station provision in Shipley constituency. (902047)

Decisions on the cost of reorganising fire stations are a matter for local fire and rescue authorities. Needless to say, I would expect any such reorganisations to save public money, rather than cost more.

I am grateful to the Secretary of State for that answer. West Yorkshire fire authority has given up two fire station properties to hand over to a social housing provider in exchange for one less valuable piece of land to build a new fire station on. There is a lot of concern, not least from firefighters, that at a time of budgetary pressures, the fire authority is tossing away literally tens of thousands of pounds. Does the Secretary of State have any powers to intervene to ensure the taxpayer gets good value for money, or at least to make sure we know the valuation of these lands so that we can see for ourselves what the impact is on local taxpayers?

Before answering my hon. Friend’s question, may I pay tribute to all firefighters for their hard work on bonfire night last Thursday and over the weekend, and may I say how proud I was to meet firefighters and other members of the civilian services on parade at the Cenotaph yesterday? In the 75th anniversary of the battle of Britain we remember the 800 firefighters who were killed and the 7,000 injured defending us during the last war.

I am very concerned about what my hon. Friend says, and I will ask the chief fire and rescue adviser, who has the powers of an inspector, to meet him to understand his concerns and advise me on next steps.

I thank the Secretary of State for his response and pay tribute to the wonderful work that our firefighters do keeping us all safe, particularly on occasions such as the recent bonfire night. The Fire Brigades Union is extremely concerned about the forthcoming round of cuts and my hon. Friend the Member for Shipley (Philip Davies) has highlighted a major concern. Is not the Secretary of State guilty of putting ideology before public safety in Shipley, in Yorkshire and beyond?

I am glad that my hon. Friend the Member for Shipley (Philip Davies) is a friend of the hon. Lady’s too; he is a very popular Member of this House. These proposals are locally given and his concern is that they may not be saving money. Any reorganisation has to save public money, not least because we do need to have value for public money, and fire and rescue authorities have had a good record in achieving that.

With regard to fire provision in west Yorkshire, in my constituency and in west Yorkshire at Wetherby it would make sense for the police station and fire service to go to a joint services site. What can my right hon. Friend do to encourage authorities to take joint sites?

As my hon. Friend knows, a consultation is out at the moment looking at ways in which the blue-light services can co-ordinate with each other so that they can provide the best possible service to our residents.