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Fire Cover: Nottinghamshire

Volume 725: debated on Monday 19 December 2022

The level of fire cover in Nottinghamshire is a matter for the Nottinghamshire and City of Nottingham Fire Authority, but I would observe that in Nottinghamshire the Labour-controlled fire and rescue service has cut firefighter numbers by 11% since 2016, despite its funding settlement having been about the same as other fire and rescue services, which, nationally have seen only a 1.6% reduction.

The Nottinghamshire and City of Nottingham Fire Authority is proposing to cut the night shift at West Bridgford fire station despite the fact that it will save no money, the station has higher night-time call-out rates than other stations in the county, and it will leave Rushcliffe as the only borough in Nottinghamshire without full-time fire cover at night. Can the Minister advise me on the options Members of Parliament have to challenge the decision-making of local fire authorities when it is clear that they are letting down our constituents and the brave firefighters who serve them?

I thank my hon. Friend for her question and for her campaigning on the issue of Nottinghamshire fire services, which she has raised with me a number of times. There is certainly no financial excuse for what the fire and rescue authority is doing. This year, it received a 5.2% funding increase and, thanks to my hon. Friend’s campaigning, when the figures are published tomorrow, there will be further good financial news for the Nottinghamshire and City of Nottingham Fire Authority. On how the fire authority’s decisions might be queried, any concerns she has can be raised with the inspectorate and taken into account when the fire service is next inspected. Otherwise, the fire and rescue authority is made up of local authority representatives, who are accountable, periodically, via the ballot box.

Nottinghamshire Fire and Rescue Service is well led and staffed by excellent firefighters and non-firefighting staff alike. They keep our community staff in increasingly difficult circumstances. They would like to meet the Minister to discuss their challenges, particularly in relation to funding. Will the Minister take that meeting with them and with local MPs?

Yes, I would be very happy to meet the hon. Member and his colleagues from Nottinghamshire, perhaps early in the new year, to discuss this issue. As I said, Nottinghamshire fire services got a 5.2% funding increase in this current year, and I think good news can be expected when the full settlement is published tomorrow. I would observe that, in common with the rest of the country, the number of fires in Nottinghamshire has substantially decreased by 45% over the last 12 years.