MPs meet minister over South Yorkshire fire cuts

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THE fight for a fairer funding deal for Metropolitan fire services is gathering pace, with a South Yorkshire MP leading a cross-party discussion with Fire Minister Bob Neill.

Dearne MP John Healey led a delegation of MPs from across the country in a meeting with the Government official over funding cuts they fear will put lives at risk and cost hundreds of firefighter jobs.

The politicians at the meeting represented South Yorkshire, West Yorkshire, Greater Manchester, Merseyside, Tyne and Wear and West Midlands - metropolitan areas where fire services are facing the biggest cuts.

There is anger some rural services are receiving more Government cash despite public sector spending cuts.

Mr Healey said: “It is indefensible and inexcusable that our areas have taken the biggest hit in the first two years, while some parts of the country are getting an increase in funding.

“It proves we are not all in this together – not when it comes to fire funding.

“The fire chiefs have put together a strong, factual case about their fears for future safety and services if ministers don’t spread cuts more fairly.

“If cuts are made on the same scale for a further two years, people’s lives and safety will be put at risk and fire stations would have to close.

“The fire chiefs accept the government have decided to make cuts in the total funding for fire services but the cut should be an equal amount for every service, like with the police.

“The fire minister has told me he has an open mind and has agreed that fire chiefs should continue detailed work with his officials.”