Councillor calls for fair treatment of retired firefighters
A Berwick councillor has called for funding cuts to the fire service to be reversed.
Coun Georgina Hill, member for Berwick East, has also called on the new Tory-led administration to rectify the treatment of eight retired firefighters from Berwick and Hexham over their pension entitlement.
At the full Northumberland County Council meeting last Wednesday, Coun Hill, referencing the recent Grenfell Tower tragedy asked what steps would be taken to rectify the previous Labour-led administration’s decision to close the Haydon Bridge Fire Station and cut the fire service annual budget by £500,000.
Coun John Riddle, the council’s portfolio holder for resilience, agreed that the fire service was an essential front-line service and paid tribute to its work but failed to give any guarantees on funding.
Coun Hill has campaigned for the pension rights of the retired firefighters who have been denied the benefit of the Norman v Cheshire ruling of 2011 which decreed that pay for firefighters for working a day shift was pensionable.
Gordon Blackett, from Spittal, who served with Berwick fire service for almost 50 years, is one of the eight who missed out after the previous administration’s decision to use the Limitations Act.
He said: “I was mystified to hear Coun Riddle describe our treatment as ‘fair’ – we only want to receive our rightful settlement.
“It difficult to accept that those of us with the longest service have missed out.”
Coun Hill added that she was going to ask the Tory administration and Coun Riddle to think again and would raise the issue with the Government’s pension minister.