Thursday, 21 February 2013

Petition against fire service privatisation in England & Wales nears 10,000 signatures

18 Feb 2013

A new internet campaign has been launched to oppose government plans to privatise the 46 fire and rescue services in England.

Close to 10,000 signatures have already been received from members of the general public who oppose the idea on campaign website 38 Degrees, with hundreds more being added every day.

It comes after a letter from local government minister, Brandon Lewis, obtained by the Mirror, said that local fire and rescue authorities could look into contracting out their full range of services to "a suitable provider".

Mr Lewis said that while the proposals are "not without controversy", it would help remove barriers and increase choices available to them as many face budget cuts.

However, critics have slammed the idea, saying that privatisation would have a detrimental effect on the life-saving services fire-fighters provide.

The Fire Brigades' Union, London, said: "It looks like the government is planning to privatise our fire service. They're trying to sneak in new laws that 'would enable fire and rescue authorities in England to contract out their full range of services to a suitable provider'.
"Every day, fire-fighters put their lives in danger to keep us safe. Within minutes of an emergency, we can expect fire crews to be there to save lives and protect our property. Privatising this vital service might seem crazy. But that's exactly what the government is trying to quietly slip through a hush-hush parliamentary committee."

It added that people "need to move fast to show the government" people want a fire service that prioritises peoples' lives and profit.

The petition, available here, had 9,216 signatures as of 10.30 GMT on February 18th, with many leaving comments as well.

It comes after Boris Johnson, the Mayor of London, revealed that he would be taking legal action against city's fire authority after it refused to consult on budget cuts.

Proposals include 12 fire station closures in the capital, more than 500 redundancies and £45 million in savings.

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