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of the British Broadcasting Corporation



Thursday, 8 November 2007, 12:59 GMT
Fire service cut 'risking lives'

A council has pledged to fight "tooth and nail" against plans to cut fire service cover in Livingston.

West Lothian Council claimed the move would put the lives of both the public and firefighters at risk.

The plan would see one of Livingston's two full-time crews replaced by a retained crew on evenings and weekends.

Lothian and Borders Fire and Rescue Board said its proposals were focused on delivering "balanced and effective service provision".

The council said it would seek a judicial review of the situation and has called for the decision to be suspended in the meantime.

It also said it would move a motion of no confidence in fire board convener Michael Bridgman over the issue unless the decision was reversed.

Council leader Peter Johnston said the reduction in fire cover at the Livingston station was "totally unacceptable".

It would see 18 of the 52 full-time staff deployed elsewhere with 15 extra part-time firefighters recruited to provide evening and weekend emergency cover.

We have to challenge this decision and fight tooth and nail to retain the present level of fire service cover at Livingston
Peter Johnston
West Lothian Council leader

Mr Johnston said the board originally agreed to suspend a service improvement plan to re-evaluate the position in West Lothian.

He added: "This is a cut in the fire service which would put at risk the lives of firefighters and the residents of West Lothian they serve.

"We are now calling for a suspension of this decision and seeking detailed information about the usage of the two whole-time appliances at Livingston and turnout statistics for retained firefighters within the Lothian and Borders area.

"If this is declined we have authorised our fire board representatives to move a motion of no confidence in the convener and we will taking steps to seek a judicial review of this decision.

"We have to challenge this decision and fight tooth and nail to retain the present level of fire service cover at Livingston."

In a statement, the fire and rescue board said: "The agreed Service Improvement Plan is based upon the delivery of a balanced and effective service provision in response to the risk from fire and other emergencies throughout the board's area.

"Additionally the plan meets the board's statutory obligations."

Under the plan, a new full-time crew would be based at Whitburn fire station, which previously had only retained cover.