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Labour warns of 'back door' privatisation

By Western Morning News  |  Posted: March 19, 2013

Comments (18)

Labour has challenged the Government to make clear that proposals to allow mutuals to run firefighting services will not lead to "stealth privatisation" of the fire service.

Shadow Fire Minister Chris Williamson voiced concern about moves to support mutualisation of the fire service in parts of the UK.

The Fire Brigades Union has spoken out against any proposals it believes would lead to the service being privatised.

Cornwall Fire and Rescue Service and Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue Service provide cover in the Westcountry.

Mr Williamson said: "The Fire Minister has said he wants to support mutualisation of frontline firefighting services.

"But all the while he's winking at the private sector who can see the opportunity for whopping profits at public expense.

"It's time for him to make a choice. Does he want to stick with a model of public emergency services, or is he going to betray the public trust and hand over frontline firefighting to profit-making corporates?"

But a Communities Department spokesman said: "Any attempt to characterise local plans for an employee-led mutual as privatisation are completely misleading.

"Public safety is always our first concern and we continue to work with fire and rescue authorities to ensure they provide the most efficient and effective front-line fire service there can be.

"Fire and rescue authorities will remain statutorily responsible for this public service and to suggest otherwise is completely wrong

"The Government does, however, support co-operatives and employee ownership. We are keen to work with local authorities and their staff wanting to explore the scope for employee-led mutuals where there is local support and backing."

Cleveland Fire Brigade has announced that it plans to become a "mutual" – a business owned and led by employees.

The Government says the law needs to be changed to allow the plans to go ahead, but the proposals sparked concern – appearing to go much further and open the door to a wide range of organisations taking over fire services.

Last week, Councillor Lance Kennedy, Cornwall Council portfolio holder for community safety and public protection, who effectively oversees Cornwall Fire Service, told the Western Morning News he believed there would be "no great appetite" for the proposal in the far South West.

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  • st-fetishist  |  March 19 2013, 10:04PM

    Newquay loyal - privatisation does work - so says all independent analysis- no serious political party intends to reverse privatisation - the problems associated with privatisation are not due to the commercialisation process per se. The problems are explained by alternative reasons ie lack of competition/ regulation , under valuation of an assert, poor structural formation....rising world market pressure. But the fact of privatisation is an innocent bystander.....a now defunct principle of communist far left dinosaur politics clinging to clause 4...

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  • TrotskyOffski  |  March 19 2013, 8:17PM

    It's funny how socialists don't like parliamentary democracy when they are kicked out by the will of the people.

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  • Charlespk  |  March 19 2013, 5:01PM

    I really love people who have a way with words and tell it as it is. http://tinyurl.com/3w98qx7

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  • barumbcfc  |  March 19 2013, 4:48PM

    "Josdave" Did labour gain an majority share of the vote in the thirteen years ?no I thought not !this year your getting £50 rebate on your water bill,what did you get off your beloved Labour Party in the 13 years in power ? Answer nowt,zilch,diddly squat. "Newquay loyal" I think you will find the major deregulation of the banks took place on blairs watch and it was that other idiotic " jock" brown who deregulated them.and being pedantic it it would be hard for them to locate Barnstable as the uk one only has one b,the one you mentioned is in Massachusetts !!! "Nickthompson" Words fail me! attitudes like yours are the reason labour virtually bankrupted the uk.you certainly ain't got a degree in economics. For my own views anything that stops the restrictive practises of fire brigade unions is ok by me.

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  • josdave  |  March 19 2013, 3:25PM

    As for the Tories winning the most seats that is true but they were voted for by a minority of the electorate. Most of those who voted did not vote Tory but are getting hit just the same with the preoccupation with privatisation. In a fair system would the area with the lowest wages pay the highest water rates? That is privatisation for you where profit matters more than the customers.

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  • TrotskyOffski  |  March 19 2013, 12:49PM

    Newquay_loyal - Prices usually do go up, it's called inflation, what was your house worth 30 years ago. The left just don't seem to be able to get basic economics.

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  • Jonny2010  |  March 19 2013, 12:36PM

    Labour have ZERO credability when it comes to Fire and Rescue Services. The Regional Fire Control Centre (FiRe) fiascal was a disgrace and we're still paying for it.

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  • Newquay_Loyal  |  March 19 2013, 12:27PM

    To Mr T/O. The current profit driven Gov't serve a very few Elite brotherhood, most of whom were members of the Bully Boy club. Whereas Unions, who are a collective of a vast number of people, known as 'Workers', serve the public at large and aim to protect services from those who wish to either/or, cash in on them / destroy them. Let's take a look at everything that the Tories have privatised over the years - Rail, Water, Electricity, Gas etc etc... in every case, prices have gone up, to ensure a small minority make a huge profit - Customer service has fallen through the floor due staff levels being to being slashed to the bone and good staff driven out, wages driven down to the national minimum and workers rights ignored. If privatisation is so good, why is it, that only those who make money out of it, supporting the continued practice ? Perhaps if we got rid of the right wing extremist Thatcherite 'Greed is good' policies and looked after our population as a whole, this Country might not be in such as sorry state. And before you give me 'it was all Labours fault' claptrap, even Brown & Blair were unable to screw up as badly as the Bankers of the USA & US. Maggie deregulated the Banks and made sure that her pals lined their pockets at the expense of UK PLC. Can you imagine the 999 call. "Help, my house is on fire", - OK please sir, which Country are you calling from please ? "Help, come quick, it's 18 Normal Road, Barnstable" - Please Sir, are you having Insurance for fires please ? "What ?, please send a fire engine now" - I'm so sorry Sir, do you have the insurances ? Sir ? Sir ? Oh dear, he seems to have got cut off, I hope that his house, barn and stable are all ok.

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  • TrotskyOffski  |  March 19 2013, 11:51AM

    Comrade Nick, the Tories are the will of the people, we had a democratic election and the Tories won the most seats, the prolateriat spoke and the Tory-Lib Dem pact have carried the day. A bit like the Lib-Lab pact of the 70's. Funny how you put 'care' in big letters but 'CAREER' in small letters, remember these are PROFESSIONAL people comrade Nick.

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  • nickthompson  |  March 19 2013, 11:34AM

    TrotskyOffski: Being a Tory supporter I wouldn't expect you to understand that those who choose a career which involves looking after their fellow human beings Polce,Fire,Ambulance,and all other caring professions,do so because THEY CARE.

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