We at FCCL have been overwhelmed by the support we have had over the past few weeks. Sometimes running a campaign is hard work but this one is a pleasure to work on. The campaign has brought a group of diverse people together for a common purpose; to oppose the proposals that are to be voted on 21st December by the West Yorkshire Fire Authority.
But the more we uncover "discrepancies" like the proposed close call crewing that was so important in June and got "binned" in September and the fact that house fires in some areas are on the up not down. (Killingbeck and Seacroft in East Leeds had an 18% rise in 2011) the more we become confident that the fire authority will listen to the reasoned and very genuine concerns of members of the voting public.
OR WILL THEY
What we dont understand is way back in June the the Fire Authority listed in a news feed the following :-
Labour and Liberal Democrats Seal Partnership
Labour and Liberal Democrat councillors on the country’s fourth largest metropolitan fire authority are to maintain their joint working agreement.
The two parties first came together to form a political leadership team in 2010.
“We have shelved party interests in favour of maintaining political stability at a time of unprecedented financial crisis,” explained Labour group leader, Mehboob Khan.
“The fire authority is losing 25 per cent of its central government grant so I don’t under-estimate the pain that has already brought, and will continue to bring over the next two years,” he said. “However, robust plans are in place to try and manage the deficit and with steady hands at the tiller and the support and commitment of everyone concerned we will do everything possible to try and protect our vital front-line emergency service.”
Councillor Khan was elected unopposed as the new authority Chair.
Councillor Khan is the Leader of Kirklees Council and has been active in the Labour party for more than 20 years. He is a prominent member of the Local Government Association, a non-executive director of NHS Kirklees and is a governor of Greenhead College.
His Vice-Chair for 2012/13 will be fellow Kirklees councillor, Judith Hughes.
This was in June - what happens now ? Will labour and the liberals stay "married" we don't understand why the liberals bothered as even if they had a Condem Coalition, Labour hold the majority of seats - UNLESS OF COURSE SOME LABOUR COUNCILLORS WILL VOTE WITH THEIR CONSCIENCES IN DECEMBER AND DEFY THE WHIP!!!!!!!!
Last year we worked closely with Cllr Ron Grahame (Leeds,Labour) who said all the right things right up to the final hour. Even his colleague Cllr Asghar Khan thought he was voting against the closures. But Ron walked in to the WYFRA meeting came straight over to the FBU and said "sorry boys i have been whipped" voted the cuts thorough and then went had had a huge row with Sarah Covell in the foyer of Birkenshaw who gave him the benefit of her opinion and has campaigned vigourously against him ever since. He then later in a telephone interview told a reporter he had done the right thing, the cuts were necessary, he regretted nothing.
WHAT HAPPENED NEXT IS INTERESTING ---- a few minutes after the initial interview Ron rang the journalist back and said he had been unable to talk as someone was in the room. He had no choice - he had never faced a three line whip before.
Who elects these politicians ? WE THE PUBLIC DO ?
Who hold the Whip ? Well we are not sure but we do know it takes a great deal of courage to oppose it and say NO!!!!! Courage many councillors lack.
No doubt "the party" can make the lives pretty miserable for people who defy them, threaten them with deselection maybe and bump them off a few committees.
Had Ron stuck by his promises he would have had our respect - the other politicians would have still voted the IRMP through but Ron would have spoken up for his community instead of kicking it and reducing its cover. Since then we have sat in committee meetings in Leeds where he has said "the fire service is stretched to breaking point" , that the new station in inner east leeds should be built nearer the areas of high risk (when Ron clearly voted to reduce cover, increase call out times and build the new station further away.)
It is the same with other fire authority members, Cllr Sharon Hamilton (labour Moortown Leeds) will be an interesting one to watch this year. Last year she voted to reduce the cover in her own ward at Moortown and this year will possibly vote to close it completely. Yet wearing a different hat as a NHS worker (Unison member we think) screams from the rafters about cuts in the health service whilst welding a grim reapers axe to the fire service and fellow union members.
We swear you couldnt make it up ............................. just remember if your councillor is on the Fire Authority and votes these cuts through - quite simply DON'T VOTE FOR THEM AGAIN.
Tomorrow we will demonstrate how WYFRS manipulate the figures they present to council committees, by demonstrating the handiwork of Station Commander Nigel Kirk - watch this space :-)