Manchester

Fire Brigades Union condemns Greater Manchester mayor's budget plan

Andy Burnham meets the fire service
Image caption Andy Burnham (right) took control of the region's fire service in 2017

Greater Manchester's mayor should scrap his "insulting" planned cuts to fire services, a union has said.

An emergency motion at the Fire Brigades Union (FBU) conference condemned Andy Burnham's three-year plan to reduce his fire budget by £12.8m.

The mayor revealed proposals in March to cut jobs, close fire stations and reduce fire appliance crew numbers.

A statement from Mr Burnham blamed government spending limits.

The motion said the FBU hoped the election of the Labour mayor in 2017 "would herald a new and helpful governance arrangement for our fire service".

It continued: "However, it is now clear that it's the same old story of cuts to the fire service."

Image copyright GMFRS
Image caption Andy Burnham plans to merge six stations into three sites

The union's North West executive council member, Les Skarrett,s said his members had "come to expect brutal cuts imposed by Tories in Westminster, but to see a Labour mayor cutting vital public services is an insult to working people".

A consultation on the plans to merge six stations in Bolton, Manchester and Stockport into three sites and reduce the number of firefighters on each appliance from five to four ends on 31 May.

The proposals could also see 113 support staff roles axed, including youth engagement, community and administration posts.

Responding to the criticism, Mr Burnham said the union was "mistaken if they think Greater Manchester is making these changes out of choice".

He said: "The responsibility for cuts to the fire service budget lies squarely with the government and its ongoing policy of austerity."

A Home Office spokesperson said: "Fire and rescue services have the resources they need to do their important work and overall will receive around £2.3bn in 2019/20.

"It is for each fire and rescue authority to determine the operational resources required to deliver services to local communities."

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