Last night (Thursday 2nd August 2018) crowds of concerned residents attended a public meeting in Hatfield to hear warnings about forthcoming cutbacks to Hertfordshire Fire and Rescue Service.
Organised by local Labour Councillors, the meeting welcomed residents from all over Hertfordshire concerned with the proposals by the Police and Crime Commissioner David Lloyd to take over the Fire Service and close both Hatfield and WGC Fire Stations – moving them to the Police Headquarters at Stanborough.
The crowd heard about the impact of Government cutbacks by three senior representatives from the Fire Brigades Union, who also expressed their concerns at the plans, and the impact this would have on residents across Hertfordshire.
Labour Leader Kieran Thorpe demanded that Conservative MPs “get off their backsides” and publicly drop their support for the takeover and write to the Home Secretary Sajid Javid, before he decides whether to approve or reject it later this year. Following the recent announcement of this meeting, Welwyn Hatfield MP Grant Shapps withdrew his support.
Residents were outraged by the plans and touched by the many personal stories of the community work done by local firefighters in Welwyn Hatfield in addition to their day to day lifesaving duties.
One attendee asked – “Why isn’t the police and crime commissioner here tonight? He should be concentrating on fixing what he’s already responsible for, not building up his empire”.
Councillor James Broach, who chaired the meeting, took a vote of those present to see if they ‘opposed the takeover of the fire service, the closure of fire stations and any cuts to emergency services’ – and the result was unanimous.
Welwyn Hatfield is just a fraction of the wider plans for Hertfordshire’s emergency services across the County – with several Fire and Police Stations facing closure and cutbacks to reduce costs – ignoring the real cost.
This public meeting must be the start of a wider fightback involving concerned campaigners across Party lines and County boundaries and this was clearly evidenced by the attendance of residents and political representatives from Hertsmere, Hertford and Watford.