Proposals to cut specialist fire engine crew in Northampton cannot go through 'without consultation' pleads FBU

Protesters gathered outside County Hall yesterday ahead of the county council's cabinet meeting.

Protesters gathered outside County Hall yesterday ahead of the county council's cabinet meeting.

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Plans to lose 12 full time fire-fighters by getting rid of a specialist fire engine based in Northampton are likely to be approved because of a "veiled" consultation, a brigades union leader said.

Yesterday's cabinet meeting at Northamptonshire County Council, saw the Conservative-run authority approve £58 million worth of budget-cutting proposals behind-closed-doors, after the public were asked to leave due to protests.

The cuts will not be ratified until next week's full council meeting however.

But among the proposals, the county council is planning to change the way the Technical Rescue Vehicle (TRV) based at Mereway Fire Station, is crewed, in a bid to save around £400,000.

At yesterday's cabinet meeting, Ben Muddle of the Northamptonshire Fire Brigades Union (FBU) branch, said drafts of the Community Protection Plan that went out to consultation did not contain the same level of detail as the proposals put before cabinet.

"We don't believe the public has had the correct opportunity to be consulted," he said. "It won't be honest for the people of Northampton to get a lesser service through a veiled consultation document."

The Technical Rescue Vehicle is currently used as an additional resource to all "specialist rescues" including car crashes.

But cabinet papers state that "many years ago" all front line fire appliances were upgraded to include a full set of rescue equipment.

It adds that the TRV will remain available for other incidents at the request of "incident commanders."

"This change of use will facilitate the removal of primary crewing of the TRV," the report adds. "Enabling the removal of 12 firefighter posts from the establishment to achieve the required ...efficiency saving. Vacant establishment posts will be removed so no redundancies are required."