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SCOTTISH SECRETARY GIVES ASSURANCE ON FIRE SAFETY

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Scottish secretary Michael Forsyth has expressed concern about the apparent unwillingness of some local authorities...
Scottish secretary Michael Forsyth has expressed concern about the apparent unwillingness of some local authorities to make adequate provision for the funding of their fire brigades, and particularly about proposed closures of fire stations.

Mr Forsyth said today:

'I believe that proper provision for our front-line emergency services must be given the highest priority. For that reason I have increased the fire service grant aided expenditure (GAE) provision for 1996-97 by 10% over this year's GAE.

'I expect fire authorities to take a similar view of the importance of this vital public service as they set fire brigade budgets for next year. To this end I have written recently to the conveners of the new local authorities, and of the islands councils, to ask them to give priority to the funding of their fire brigades. I believe that, if they do so, there should be no need for standards of service to the public to be eroded.

'To avoid any doubt, I should make it clear that, if closures of fire stations or reductions in the number of firefighters are proposed, these will in every case require my approval under fire service legislation.

'I certainly will not give approval to any such closures or reductions where this could lead to the safety of the public being jeopardised. On the contrary, I will expect brigades' arrangements always to be such as to maintain the ability of the service to respond appropriately to fires and other emergencies.'

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