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Parents launch petition in support of Young Firefighters Association
Updated 11:06am Thursday 22nd May 2014 in News
PARENTS in Shipston have launched a petition to support the Young Firefighters' Association (YFA) which is under threat from funding cuts.
Warwickshire Fire & Rescue Service is currently consulting with the public on how it can slash its budget by £2.4million by 2018, with £1.3million of cuts due to be made in the next two years.
Proposed changes include the removal of 30 fulltime firefighters and reductions in some of the activity the service takes part in such as the installation of smoke alarms in the home.
But the cuts also mean support for the YFA will be stopped in November, which has left parents up in arms.
The group, which also has branches in Bidford-on-Avon, Kenilworth and Wellesbourne, gives young people aged between 11 and 17 the opportunity to get involved in activities and projects in a fire service setting including fire service drills, parades, pitching ladders and hose running.
Parent Donna Hall, of Manor Lane, who launched a petition in support of the Shipston group, said she would do everything she could to keep it running.
"As parents we would be happy to pay funding to maintain it," said the 41-year-old. "We live in a town with retained firefighters, surely we should be encouraging them, it's beyond a joke.
"If we can show them that we've got the support of the town and everybody wants to keep it. It's been around for years."
Mrs Hall, whose 12-year-old son Matthew has been a member of the Shipston group for 18 months, said he "absolutely loves" it and has really noticed the benefits from being a member.
"His confidence has gone through the roof," she added. "He's really got a lot out of it. I just think what else is he going to be doing? There isn't anything."
Shipston Mayor Philip Vial said the town council was very keen for the group to continue.
"The town council is supporting the bid to save it," he said. "I think the young firefighters are very important not only because of the work they do in fire safety with kids but also it's one of the things in a rural community that gives kids something to do.
"We can't keep cutting rural services for young people, it's madness."
Warwickshire County Councillor for Shipston Chris Saint said he was hoping to set up a meeting with the chief fire officer to discuss the proposals.
"Facilities for young people are highly important," he said. "I think what they learn through their time in the young firefighters enables them to grow into more resourceful adults."
A Warwickshire County Council spokesperson said: "We have reviewed our approach to working with vulnerable young people, carefully considering the arguments for and against the support that we provide.
"We acknowledge the popularity of the Young Firefighters Association and we also recognise the commitment of both the Young Firefighters and their Instructors.
"However, tough decisions need to be made and activities need to be targeted at the most vulnerable sectors of the community."
To view the consultation, visit warwickshire.gov.uk/fireandrescue.
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