Hope for future of fire cadets

Cotswold Journal: FIGHT: People in Shipston are petitioning to save the town’s Young Firefighters Assoc-iation. From left, Donna Hall, her son Matthew and Kate Billing. FIGHT: People in Shipston are petitioning to save the town’s Young Firefighters Assoc-iation. From left, Donna Hall, her son Matthew and Kate Billing.

A CAMPAIGN to save a vital service for young people in Shipston is gathering pace - with more than 1,600 signatures of support already gathered on a petition.

Parents are fighting to support the Young Firefighters’ Association (YFA) in the town after learning it is under threat due to funding cuts.

Warwickshire Fire and Rescue Service is currently consulting 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.

Last Thursday, parents met with Andy Hickmott, Warwickshire’s chief fire officer, county councillor Chris Saint, district cllr Richard Cheney and Shipston’s mayor and deputy mayor over proposals.

And they have been given a glimmer of hope.

Mayor Philip Vial said the organisation could continue even if support is cut.

“We will be extremely disappointed if funding is withdrawn from yet another youth facility,” he said.

“There is a fall back position.

It may be possible for parents to take over the YFA in the same way the youth club was taken over.

“It is vitally important that our campaign continues.”

Parent Donna Hall, of Manor Lane, who launched a petition in support of the Shipston group, said: “There’s plenty of support but really I would prefer to keep it as it is.

Shipston District Councillor Jeff Kenner said: “The Fire Service must rethink and commit to the YFA.”

Warwickshire County Council has told the Journal that, while the popularity and value of the Young Firefighters Association, “tough decisions” must be made on funding.

To sign the petition, visit bit.ly/1s5oIQ7 or paper copies are available at the town council and in town centre shops.

View the consultation at: warwickshire.gov.uk/fireandrescue

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