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 certainly happy to pass on my hon. Friend's concerns, and I am sure that we will all be working in our own way. I apologise for some of my colleagues, Mr Benton; it is a happy disaster that so many new Members have been elected in Warwickshire.

The Morphew report, published in 2007, made it clear that waste and inefficiency were present, not because of too many fire stations but because of too much bureaucracy, which is something that we all understand from many other walks of life. According to the report, the Warwickshire fire and rescue service spent more per head on non-uniformed staff than any other county fire and rescue service in the country. The difference was not small: Warwickshire spent 220% more than its nearest rival, and it has between 15% and 20% more support staff than any similar fire and rescue authority in the country.

The report not only identified waste on non-uniformed and support staff, but outlined that Warwickshire had the sixth highest corporate and democratic core costs out of 43 fire services. Those costs increased by 54% in the four years preceding the 2007 report. The report also stated that such costs accounted for about £5 million of the Warwickshire fire and rescue service's budget. A conservative saving of 10% on those costs, rather than on front-line services, would cut £500,000. I respect the work of our support and non-uniformed staff and I appreciate that all organisations in this country face rising costs, but if it comes down to a choice between saving firefighters and fire stations and spending more on back-room staff, I know which one the people of Warwick would prefer.