Crunch time for cuts to fire service and voluntary sector

On Thursday (27 September) two important decisions will be taken that will affect High Peak.

I’ve been lobbying and campaigning, both about the proposed loss of the Aerial Ladder Platform (ALP) fire engine from Buxton, and the proposed huge cuts to all of Derbyshire’s voluntary sector which would seriously affect our fantastic CVS services based at Buxton, Whaley Bridge and New Mills.

I am delighted that the recommendations put to the joint Derbyshire health boards seem a vast improvement on the proposed immediate cuts. A total cut of £100,000 across all of the services across Derbyshire is requested now, with a full review of the services’ effectiveness to follow over the next 6 months.

In my correspondence with the Chief Officer and in the debate I held in Parliament I called for a full investigation so the services could properly evidence the huge contribution that they make and their absolute value for money.

The Health Minister promised me there would be a proper and full consultation, and I am very pleased this will be happening. The £100,000 in cuts across the county will have an impact but it is far less than the £650,000 originally proposed and I hope that the services will be able to continue to operate and demonstrate their value. I will continue to fight and support them for as long as it takes to save them.

In contrast, I’m appalled that, having promised me the Fire Authority would have the option to buy High Peak’s ALP engine for just £3,000, the papers for Thursday’s meeting of the Board don’t mention it.

I have therefore written to the Chief Fire Officer and to every member of the Fire Authority to ask them to support this minimal cost option that will help all of High Peak. The alternative of the Chesterfield ALP takes 45 minutes to Buxton or 60 to New Mills, so it has to be worth it for the safety of people in all our tall buildings.

Purchasing the Buxton ALP outright for the £3,000 quoted by the lease company and keeping it in operational use for as long as it is cost effective to do so should see us through a period of change to taller buildings around Buxton, as The Crescent is completed, George Street Mansions are looked at and the new hospital is built.

Thank you to the hundreds of people who signed my petition. I hope it helps to sway Thursday’s decision.

I will continue to keep the pressure on – there is always plenty to do in fighting for High Peak. Sometimes we are successful, and sometimes not, but I will always do my best for our local services.

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