I was joined by one of my political friends who's part of the Scottish Firefighters Union and we talked about the role of firefighters in Carlisle and Cumbria. This was particularly relevant given the flood warnings two days ago, again, for the River Caldew and Petteril.
Not much has been said about the firefighters during this election campaign. We've talked about nurses and police officers and cuts to school budgets. So here is the view from the FBU - the firefighters' union:
The last 7 years of Tory rule has resulted the loss of 10,000 firefighter jobs. These cuts are felt particularly hard in the North West including Cumbria. This has been brought about by a massive reduction in the budgets for fire and rescue services by the Tories.
Firefighters pay has been held back, our pensions wrecked and our national insurance payments increased meaning a real terms pay cut for firefighters.
Response times are getting slower whilst the risks are getting ever worse. Flooding is something that cannot be ignored, the Labour Party has declared that it would make flooding a statutory duty for English fire and rescue services, as it already is in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, which is the right thing to do. The Tories have said they will not. Why should our citizens be any less protected under a Tory Government than our friends in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland?
Labour have stated that they would re-invest in the fire and rescue service and return 3000 firefighters jobs immediately, the Tories are determined to continue their cuts agenda meaning less money less fire stations, less fire appliances and less firefighters for the fire and rescue service. Sadly fatalities in fire have increased in Cumbria, that trend has to stop and that can only be done by reinvesting in the fire and rescue service by a Labour Government.