MP’s attack over fire station funding ‘pathetic’

Crawley MP, county councillors, and fire officers for official unveiling of refurbishments at Crawley Fire Station
Crawley MP, county councillors, and fire officers for official unveiling of refurbishments at Crawley Fire Station

A ‘pathetic’ attack by Crawley’s MP on funding for a refurbishment of the town’s fire station has been criticised by Labour.

Firefighters were joined by politicians to officially unveil upgrades to the fire station in Ifield Drive today (Friday January 13).

But hours after the event Crawley’s Tory MP Henry Smith tweeted: “Just wrong that local Labour county councillors voted against the West Sussex capital programme for refurbishing Crawley Fire Station.”

This was because Labour county councillors representing Crawley have been campaigning for a new fire station to be built off the Cheals roundabout on Crawley Borough Council owned land.

However proposals for a new facility, first put forward by the Tory-controlled West Sussex County Council back in 2006, do not appear in the current list of projects.

Labour county councillor Michael Jones, who is also Crawley Borough Council’s cabinet member for public protection and community engagement, said: “I was delighted to join firefighters for the opening of the refurbished station, because they deserved better working facilities.

“The fact remains however that Crawley fire station is a rapidly aging building first opened in 1956 and it is definitely not a design that modern fire services would build today.

“Neither is it in the best location to respond to the majority of calls the fire service is being called out to in the local area, or further afield.

“It’s a bit pathetic Henry tries to make party political advantage out of this issue because he knows that if his Tory colleagues at the county council hadn’t voted down Labour’s amendment to the capital programme last year, there would now be money to build a new fire station for Crawley.

“Residents were promised this ten years ago and were told back then by the county council itself this was essential. We have even offered land free of charge owned by the borough council to allow the county council to bring this forward.

“Labour councillors in Crawley, apparently unlike their Tory opponents, are committed to building a new fire station as a priority, but we see the refurbishment at the current fire station as a positive first step in the process of making that happen.”

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