I am deeply concerned at reports of mass redundancies for firefighters in Greater Manchester.
The plans, which have been in the news recently, are deeply worrying. We have already lost 400 firefighters across Greater Manchester in the last 6 years due to cuts of £26 million, and in the next 4 years the Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Authority (GMFRA) faces further cuts of £14 million. These cuts are not sustainable.
The GMFRA are receiving criticism for their handling of this situation and I share much of that frustration.
However, we must not lose sight that it is the government policy of austerity, ideological and unnecessary, which is putting Fire and Rescue Authorities here and across the country in these increasingly impossible positions. I have written to Brandon Lewis MP, the government's Minister for Policing and the Fire Service, to raise my urgent concern regarding these cuts and I call on him now to think again.
I have been in touch with local Fire Brigades Union representatives to offer my full support. Our firefighters deserve respect and thanks for the work they do. They save lives and provide an invaluable service to our communities on a daily basis, and they need to be able to focus on that work without the threat of redundancy and with the resources and staffing they need.