Fire Stations (Warwickshire)

Part of the debate – in Westminster Hall at 4:00 pm on 30th June 2010.

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Photo of Chris White Chris White Conservative, Warwick and Leamington 4:00 pm, 30th June 2010

I am delighted to have this opportunity to debate fire station provision within Warwickshire. I am also delighted to have the support of my colleagues from the county. However, I am sure that we in Westminster Hall will especially appreciate the presence of the Lord Commissioner of Her Majesty's Treasury, my hon. Friend Jeremy Wright. Owing to the convention that Whips do not speak in Westminster Hall debates, he is prevented from participating, although his thoughts on this matter are well documented.

Warwick is passionate about its fire station, and I will let my hon. Friends from the county speak in support of their own fire stations. Recently, 12,000 of my constituents signed a petition to keep Warwick fire station-a move that garnered support from the entire community, not just for emotional reasons, although Warwick residents will be forgiven for wanting to keep their fire station, given that much of the mediaeval town was destroyed in the great fire of 1694.

Warwick is an old town that is rich in heritage, and it is the central point of an ancient county. Warwick castle is located in the very heart of the town, and I need not go into great detail about the dangers that can occur from castle fires. Alongside our local NHS hospital, we have the 500-year-old Lord Leycester hospital. Both buildings are located not more than half a mile from the present fire station.

Local residents want to go to sleep safe in the knowledge that their town is secure and that, if the worst should happen, there is a fire station nearby to deal with any emergencies. It is not too much to ask to keep that fire station; local people should not have to plead to keep it.

People in my constituency appreciate-indeed, I do, too-that things need to move on. Local residents are not opposed to change, but they just do not understand why they have to lose their fire station because of change. Frankly, they do not think that they have been given a good enough set of reasons to explain the loss of their fire station. The very first priority must surely be front-line public safety.

It would not be too much to say that people in my constituency are also frustrated by the whole process of change. A flawed consultation, costing in excess of £300,000, was carried out, but it consistently showed the local population's anger at the proposed closures. People have turned to their local town councillors and district councillors, who have supported them. They have also turned to their county councillors.