THE GOVERNMENT minister in charge of fire services has refused to intervene to protect fire services in Thurrock claims an angry Polly Billington.
Grays fire station faces a downgrade, losing a rescue tender and the staff that go with it. The Fire Brigades Union and local campaigners including Labour’s candidate to be Thurrock’s next MP Polly Billington, say there are too many high risk sites in Thurrock to justify the cuts.
Polly wrote to the minister asking for her to consider the particular situation in Thurrock, since most of Essex’s high risk sites are located here in Thurrock. including Vopak, Esso and the two ports at Tilbury and DP world. She expressed concerns, shared by fire fighters, that the Essex Fire and Rescue Service has gone ahead without properly consulting on the plans and assessing the risk.
The minister, Conservative MP Penny Mordaunt, responded by refusing to get involved despite the important national infrastructure in the area, such as the Channel Tunnel Rail Link and the Dartford crossing. She instead insisted that cuts have to be made. Polly Billington said:
“I am very disappointed by the minister’s response and I suspect local residents will be too. We know the situation here in Thurrock is exceptional, with so many of us living close by high risk industrial sites where if there was a serious incident, thousands of people could be affected. Our fire fighters do a brilliant job and all efforts must be made to keep the services at the frontline at strength to protect our community.
“These are cuts that local Tory MPs supported in parliament. They and their government may be prepared to allow the cuts to go ahead regardless of our concerns, but we will press on to persuade Essex Fire and Rescue Authority to reconsider. They have a duty to keep our community safe and involve us in decision making. It looks like they are doing neither.”