After two years away, the lure of the Hilton Hotel in Gateshead was too much, and delegates gathered again at the annual LGA Fire conference to find out if there is ever going to be a fire white paper. Political Editor Catherine Levin reports.
The Fire Minister, Lord Stephen Greenhalgh, spoke in person at the conference. He is a larger-than-life figure who peppers his speech with personal anecdotes and endears himself to his hosts early on by recalling his first job working for Proctor and Gamble in Newcastle.
“First let me say how much I love being Fire Minister,” he announced. He, along with everyone else, was amazed he has lasted more than two years in post. “It’s so important to spend time get to know people and I have lots more to learn. I intend to be here a bit longer.” He claimed to be plain speaking and straight talking.
He started off by paying tribute to fire and rescue services for work during the pandemic and referred to his family’s own experience of Covid and the loss of his mother during this time.
As the war continues in Ukraine, the Minister thanked fire and rescue services for donating over 5,000 items of equipment through Fire Aid working with the NFCC. “We live in extraordinary times,” he said and went on to cite the war for delaying the launch of the fire white paper. “I can say quite clearly that if it were not for Ukraine, we would have launched the fire white paper.”
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