MP uses Parliament debate to condemn plan for ‘reduction’ in Corby fire service cover

Corby MP Andy Sawford
Corby MP Andy Sawford

Corby’s MP has led a Parliamentary debate on county council plans to scrap the town’s second fire engine.

Andy Sawford told MPs last night (Monday, January 12) that fire service proposals to replace the engine with a Cobra intervention vehicle – which would only be manned by a two-person crew – had been met with huge local opposition.

The debate came on the day a county council consultation on the future of the fire service in Northamptonshire concluded.

And Mr Sawford told MPs the potential negative impact of the authority’s county-wide proposals was “all on Corby”.

He said: “There are currently two Cobra facilities at Corby. They sit on two proper pumps. Four firefighters man those pumps. We are talking about going down to one proper pump with four firefighters and a van with this equipment on the back of it.

“That is not – the chief fire officer (Martyn Emberson) readily acknowledges this – an enhancement of what is available at Corby.

“It may be that in some other areas of the county there will be some additional service from the seven vehicles.

“In Corby, however, in my area, there is a clear reduction in the service.”

The MP had also asked for comments from members of the public which he could use in his speech in Parliament.

Addressing minister Penny Mordaunt, he said: “Over the past few weeks, more than 200 people have responded to my appeal for input into tonight’s speech. I want the minister to hear from my constituents in their own words. I hope that she will listen to them and agree to meet me, local firefighters and the county council to see whether we can find an alternative to these current plans.”

And he added: “Of the county council’s proposals, Anne Brown tells me that they are ‘bloomin’ terrible’. ‘Disgusting,’ say Bryan Robson, Janet Keeney, Liz McCormick, Dave Holt and Robert Nelson.

“‘Uncannily stupid,’ says Ian Murrie. Paul Cross calls the plans ‘insane’. Kenny Keys, Albin Wallace and Lisa Chong say the plans are a ‘disgrace’. Tim Wadley feels that the proposed cuts are ‘putting lives at risk’, a view that is shared by Robert Anderson.

“David Laws says the proposal is ‘ludicrous’. As a Corby resident for more than 60 years, he told me that he objects ‘strongly to this ridiculous idea’.”

Ms Mordaunt said introducing a new Cobra vehicle would “enhance, not compromise” the fire service’s response to emergencies in Corby.

She added: “We fully support a forward-looking strategic approach, and have awarded Northamptonshire £2.3 million, of which £1.5 million is for the purchase of five new Cobra-enabled vehicles. That award was the result of a rigorous, fair and consistent evaluation process, and the bid was assessed against a range of criteria set out in published guidance to meet the fund’s transformation objectives.

“It was in competition with other fire authorities and the authority was awarded that money because we had confidence in the bid and the difference it would make to the honourable gentleman’s community.

“The authority (Northamptonshire Fire and Rescue Service) is clear that the new Cobra vehicles will enhance – not compromise, as was suggested – the flexibility of response within Corby and the north of the county.

“It will maintain the current two-appliance capability, and although it will facilitate a reduction in whole-time staff, those reductions will be met only through natural wastage rather than any redundancies.”

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