MP throws weight behind young firefighters

MP Nadhim Zahawi with Shipston Mayor Philip Vial and members of the Young Firefighters Association (YFA). Picture by Jackie Bedford.

Members of the Young Firefighters Association in action. Picture by Jackie Bedford.

Members of the Young Firefighters Association in action. Picture by Jackie Bedford.

First published in News

SHIPSTON MP Nadhim Zahawi has thrown his weight behind a campaign to save the Young Firefighters’ Association (YFA) which is under threat from funding cuts.

Mr Zahawi visited Shipston’s Young Fire Fighters group last Thursday and spoke to parents to learn more about the situation and their concerns and was given a tour.

As previously reported, Warwickshire Fire and Rescue Service has just ended its consultation 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.

But the cuts mean support for the YFA will be stopped in November. The group, which also has branches in Bidford, Kenilworth and Wellesbourne, gives young people the opportunity to get involved in activities in a fire service setting.

Mr Zahawi said the enthusiasm of the children, volunteers and parents involved was obvious.

"I was so impressed by the knowledge and skill shown by the children during the displays," he said.

"Community schemes like Young Fire Fighters are a wonderful way to teach young people responsibility, teamwork and commitment, as well as practical skills like first aid.

"I will be writing to the Chief Fire Officer to ask for further information on why the Young Fire Fighters can no longer be supported by the Warwickshire Fire and Rescue Service.”

Parent Donna Hall, of Manor Lane, who launched the petition in support of the Shipston group, said: "I was really pleased. He seemed really positive. He was asking lots of questions about what we're doing. I believe that he believes in it."

Jonathan Baker, headteacher at Shipston High School who was also at last week's meeting, said: "The large majority of the YFA come from this school. It's a very worthy activity. It's a real shame just for such a small amount of money. I fully support the campaign to keep the young firefighters going."

Shipston Mayor Philip Vial said: "We were delighted he had made the effort to come and attend. He was able to stay for not only the entire meeting but he hung around after having a chat with everybody about what we wanted.

"What we're asking them to do is to see what can be done and be paid for and carried out by the parents and how the youth club and town council can support it.

"We're asking for the fire service to sit down and for a genuine compromise. It's now in the hands of the fire service's legal team."

- A petition with 2,131 signatures in support of the YFA was officially handed in to Warwickshire County Council's Shire Hall headquarters earlier this month.

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