Socialist Worker

Fire service cuts in area of fuel depot blast

Issue No. 1981

Whatever caused the fire at Buncefield oil depot in Hertfordshire on Sunday, we know government driven cuts and deregulation would have made the disaster even worse.

As part of New Labour’s “modernisation” programme Hertfordshire fire brigade is aiming to cut two dozen firefighters’ posts at nearby stations, as Socialist Worker reported last week.

A campaign by the Fire Brigades Union (FBU) has forced the council to put the plans out for consultation before making a final decision in February. The FBU is aiming to up the pressure to scrap the cuts package.

Cuts are also planned at the West Herts hospital, which will see its accident and emergency department downgraded so it can only take minor cases.

Similar cuts and closures are planned across Britain as chancellor Gordon Brown curbs public spending, and market mechanisms in the NHS funnel cash into private hands.

New Labour has also signalled that it wants to cut safety regulations. But it is a relatively tight health and safety regime that has limited disasters in the oil industry since the Piper Alpha explosion 17 years ago.

The Health and Safety Executive now faces budget curbs, job losses, and attempts to weaken its statutory powers.

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Sat 17 Dec 2005, 00:00 GMT
Issue No. 1981
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