Commissioner to face scrutiny over planned cuts to Harrogate’s night-time fire crews

North Yorkshire's Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner is set to face further scrutiny over plans to cut the number of night-time fire engines in Harrogate to just one.

By Jacob Webster
Monday, 25th July 2022, 9:48 am
Updated Monday, 25th July 2022, 9:51 am
North Yorkshire Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner Zoë Metcalfe.
North Yorkshire Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner Zoë Metcalfe.

Commissioner Zoë Metcalfe will face councillors at a special meeting of North Yorkshire County Council's Harrogate and Knaresborough Area Constituency Committee on Thursday.

The plans, which are currently out to consultation, have already been criticised as "putting money before lives".

The North Yorkshire Fire Brigades Union also described the proposals as "seriously concerning".

The plans would see Harrogate fire station continue to have two fire engines during the day, but just one between 10pm and 9am when fewer incidents usually occur.

The move would also mean some of the fire station's 40 crew members are moved to different stations or roles.

A report to Thursday's meeting said Harrogate is of a "predominantly low combined fire risk" and that this "does not warrant" two 24-hour fire engines.

Commissioner Metcalfe has also insisted the fire service would "continue to provide an immediate emergency response" during the night.

Yet concerns remain that the move would increase response times if multiple emergencies occur during late hours and back-up vehicles have to travel further from outside of Harrogate.

Steve Howley, secretary of the North Yorkshire Fire Brigades Union, previously urged the public to reject the proposals which he said would "put lives at risk."

He said: "The Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner needs to fight for the correct funding from government, not simply mask underfunding by slashing services and providing the public of North Yorkshire with a second-rate emergency response service."

Commissioner Metcalfe said the plans - which also include cuts to services in York and Scarborough - would save over £1.5 million a year, yet she insisted they are not cost-cutting measures.

She also said the savings would allow for investment in fire prevention.

The proposals are part of the fire service's Risk and Resource Model which sets out how it will deploy staff and equipment across North Yorkshire over the next three years.

The consultation will run until 14 August and residents are being urged to give their feedback online.

Commissioner Metcalfe said in a statement: "The role of a fire and rescue service has changed and continues to change, with only 26% of our incidents last year relating to a fire emergency.

"We want to ensure we are addressing our current and future challenges and that we have the capacity to prevent and stop incidents happening in the first place.

“Inevitably, there are some areas where the setup of the service would change but I’m confident the right people, right equipment and the right support would continue to be available to everyone.

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By Jacob Webster, Local Democracy Reporter