Rhodri questions Fire Service merger plan

AM RHODRI GLYN THOMAS: Concerns over merger plan

AM RHODRI GLYN THOMAS: Concerns over merger plan

First published in News

AM RHODRI Glyn Thomas has requested a statement from the First Minister of Wales following the announcement that Mid and West Wales Fire and Rescue Service will merge its control room functions with the South Wales Fire Service and South Wales Police Force and relocate from Carmarthen to Bridgend.

The Joint Public Service Centre is proposed to start in April 2016.

Mr Thomas has said he is concerned the decision to approve the merger was taken when the press and public were excluded from the meeting. He also expressed concern that the documentation has not been made publicly available.

Plaid Cymru’s spokesperson for Communities has this week tabled a question to the First Minister requesting a full statement on the plan, stating that the emergency services must be completely open with members of the public about the need for this change.

Meanwhile, MP Jonathan Edwards, who recently submitted a 3,000-signature petition to the National Assembly against fire station closures, reiterated his calls for a national debate on the structure and delivery of emergency services, stating that the Welsh Government must look to protect our emergency services from severe budget cuts.

Speaking ahead of his question to First Minister Carwyn Jones, Mr Thomas said: “The Mid and West Fire Service control room serves the communities of a quarter of Wales’s population and around half the size of Wales geographically.

"It is a very bold step indeed to say this service can be better delivered after being centralised eastwards to an area outside of Mid and West Wales.

“I am concerned that this decision was taken whilst members of the public and press were excluded from the meeting, and that no documentation of this proposal is in the public domain. I am further concerned by the potential for job losses which we have so far heard nothing about.

“It is vital that public authorities operate with full transparency – not least on decisions to remove services from our communities. I would expect the fire authority to release all of the information which was made available to fire authority members.

“A catalogue of concerns has been raised with me regarding this decision which prompted me to table a formal Assembly Question to the First Minister. I will be requesting that he and his officials look closely at these plans and justify how Carmarthenshire – and the wider Mid and West Wales communities – can lose the local control room without any compromise to their safety.”

Mr Edwards said: “Changes to our emergency services are emotive issues. Communities must be able to scrutinise all proposals and decisions if our public services look to change.

“We can’t be in a situation where communities and fire service personnel are fighting one proposal after the next – saving money is no excuse if there is the slightest diminishing of service."

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