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Don't privatise fire service says Trafford councillor
A GOVERNMENT proposal to contract out ‘a full range of services’ within the fire brigade has been slammed as ‘creeping privatisation’ by Trafford Labour Group.
The proposal is in the very early stages, but fire authorities across the UK could potentially be offered the opportunity to become a ‘public service mutual’, meaning firefighters and staff would own and run it themselves.
However Cllr David Acton, leader of Trafford Labour Group and chairman of Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Authority, has expressed concerns that authorities could choose to contract out their services to a private company, which would be expected to make a profit.
Cllr Acton, said: “The fire & rescue service is a vital emergency service which cannot be auctioned off to the private sector.
“We saw at the recent London Olympic Games where the Government had to call in the army to provide security at the games when the private sector failed, at the last minute, to fully implement their contract.
“Our emergency services should not be used for profit.”
Labour submitted a motion ahead of Wednesday's (March 13) Trafford Council meeting, calling on the Government to abandon the plans.
However, Cllr Matt Colledge hit back, describing the motion as ‘Labour scaremongering nonsense at its best’.
“There are absolutely no plans to privatise the fire service but there is an opportunity to work in a more efficient manner, saving money which could be used to save lives.
A spokesman for Department for Communities and Local Government also denied that the Government plans to privatise the fire service.
“We are working to support local mutuals and co-operatives, following a bid from Cleveland Fire and Rescue Authority to set up a local employee-led mutual,” the spokesman said.
“Fire and rescue authorities will remain statutorily responsible for this public service and to suggest otherwise is completely wrong.”