Harborough District Council to discuss fire service cuts

District councillor Phil Knowles. (MAIL PICTURE: ANDREW CARPENTER) ENGNNL00320140402163325
District councillor Phil Knowles. (MAIL PICTURE: ANDREW CARPENTER) ENGNNL00320140402163325

Harborough District Council will discuss the proposed cuts in the fire service at the next full council meeting on November 2.

The discussion will include a notice of motion from district councillor Phil Knowles.

Liberal Democrat councillor Knowles will be proposing the following motion: “This council has grave concerns over the proposed cuts to the fire service locally.

“We urge the fire authority to look for alternative ways to make their savings that will not mean increased risk to our residents.”

Under a money-saving re-organisation from Leicestershire and Rutland Combined Fire Authority, Market Harborough would lose one of its two fire appliances and Kibworth Fire Station, with its one appliance, would shut completely. Lutterworth, with another one fire appliance, would not be affected.

“At the end of the day, this is a huge change” said Cllr Knowles. “The impact in the Harborough district is immense.”

Last week around 200 people gathered at Kibworth Fire Station to hear about the re-organisation plans. The presentation was given by Deputy Chief Fire and Rescue Officer Steve Lunn.

Kibworth Fire Station’s Watch Manager Steve Hare has said: “Does closure put lives at risk? Yes it does.”

He admitted it would be an “uphill struggle” to save Kibworth Fire Station, but he was encouraged by the numbers at last week’s meeting hoping to save the station.

Kibworth-based district councillor Phil King said: “I can see the rationale for both sides of the argument.”

He said the re-organisation was not just financially motivated, but a response to the changing nature of the work the fire service does.

And he pointed out that the Kibworth staff were part- time, and full-time staff would be able to start their response to emergencies more quickly, even though journey times would be a little longer.

Kibworth Beauchamp parish council chairman Chris Wood said he was impressed by the turnout at the Kibworth meeting.

“The fire service, like the police before them, say they are going to work smarter” said Mr Wood. “But clearly many people are anxious.”

Harborough MP Sir Edward Garnier said he and other MPs were meeting with Leicestershire County Councillors in November to discuss Fire and Rescue Service “consolidation”.

“Clearly I’m concerned” he added.