Cumbria Fire Brigades Union say their campaign to save Cumbriaâ€™s only 999 fire control centre will go to Westminster after the County Council refused to budge at a full council meeting. A 3,300 signature petition opposing the move was presented to the chair of the council and a further 17,000 signature petition handed to Tim Farron MP.
A delegation of FBU members attended the meeting. Morven Anson, FBU control branch chair, made an impassioned speech â€œfrom the heartâ€ which was applauded from the public gallery and drew support from numerous councillors.
Cumbria County Councillors Strong and Bleasdale, both Directors of the North West Fire Control Ltd, spoke in support of the move. The company is a local authority controlled company and both are nominated by the County Council to sit on the board.
The council plans to shut its control room in June with the loss of 12 control posts. They plan to move the work to Cheshire fire serviceâ€™s fire control until 2014 as part of a two-stage move to a regional control centre.
Cumbria FBU brigade secretary Adrian Kevern said: â€œThe county council has still not thought through what it is doing. They are ignoring the first stage of the move to Cheshire which is imminent and are concentrating only on the second stage move to the regional control.
â€œBoth are fraught with difficulties and risks and to ignore the first step â€“lasting at least 2 years â€“ is just not acceptable. This is the imminent closure of the only 999 emergency fire control centre in Cumbria that fire crews and the public rely on to keep them safe.
â€œWe need proper public scrutiny and consultation, and this has still not happened in Cumbria. We made powerful arguments which are being ignored by the council and we are now taking our concerns to Westminster.
â€œIt took 9 years before politicians accepted our concerns over the original plans to move to a regional control. That disaster cost over Â£500 million of taxpayersâ€™ money and the council are trying to breathe life back into those plans.
â€œThe county council is committing council tax payerâ€™s money to a two-stage move they do not appear to fully understand. Youâ€™re not going to deliver a better fire service for Cumbria from a remote centre in Cheshire and the quicker they understand that the better.â€
Ade Kevern (Cumbria)