Friday, 24 February 2012

Fire Appliances Gather Dust As Tory Tries To Block Safety Report

Cllr Nigel Bell

Two Cambridgeshire fire appliances, which cost taxpayers £1.2 million more than two years ago, are still inoperative as a leading Tory fights to delay consideration of a report into their safety and suitability.

The appliances, one based at Cambridge and the other at Standground in Peterborough have never been officially put into service because of a series of mechanical and design faults.

But as an investigation is underway into the safety and viability of the Combined Aerial Rescue Appliances, Cllr Roy Pegram, chairman of the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Fire Authority is trying to delay the examination of a report into the study’s findings.

He has raised a discussion paper for the authority’s meeting on Thursday (February 23) calling on the service to retain the appliances and delaying examination of the investigation report until April 2013.

This would tie the hands of the new Fire Authority which will be elected in May 2013 leaving them no room for manoeuvre on the issue.

Cambridgeshire County Councillor, Lib Dem Fiona Whelan and a Conservative member are carrying out the investigation into the appliances.

Cllr Whelan said: “There are major concerns about these appliances and we are carrying out a full investigation to see whether they are fit for purpose.

“These CARAs have been backwards and forwards for repair and have never been officially put into service. The engine for Cambridge has only 800 miles on the clock.

“We need to allow the full results of this investigation to be discussed as soon as possible to protect the safety of our fire fighters. Their safety and that of the public has to be our number one priority”

Nigel Bell, Lib Dem leader on the fire authority said: “There is absolutely no reason to delay the report into this investigation for a year. These engines have been paid for out of public money and we need to know whether they can be put into service.

“The safety concerns are of paramount importance and we need to know what we are dealing with. Leaving them gathering dust for another year does not make economic sense.”

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