Guest column: Fire service concerns could even worse than we first feared

John Mann MP
John Mann MP

The proposed changes to Worksop fire service have rightly got people very worried and they were queueing up to answer the consultation questions when I was on Bridge Place with a firefighter last week.

The response has been amazing and we now have almost 2,500 completed consultation forms to hand into the fire service.

But we need more completed forms if we are to have any impact.

I have previously said that these changes will end up costing lives and the fire services is already under huge pressure to respond to every callout safely.

When the Fire Authority announced that its public meetings on the proposed cuts would be invite-only I denounced this as unacceptable.

However, I’ve now discovered that the situation is far worse than I originally thought after a woman from Langold approached me last week and claimed that Nottinghamshire Fire and Rescue Service had called her out of the blue and offered to pay her £40 for her time to attend a consultation session.

If this is true, in my view this is the fire service using public money to completely undermine the process and I have written to the chief fire officer at Nottinghamshire Fire and Rescue to challenge the openness and accountability of the consultation.

The reports of the alleged sexual harassment by MPs towards members of staff are disgraceful.

I feel that for decades, men in Westminster have been able to get away with the kind of sexually inappropriate behaviour that could land them in court if it occurred outside the closed world of politics.

It is easier for a young woman who is sexually harassed in Parliament Square to report wrongdoing and get help than if she were a researcher over the road in the Palace of Westminster.

This is unacceptable.

I have had a number of people come to me and report alleged incidents of MPs using their positions of power to get away with harassing them and making them feel uncomfortable in their place of work and I commend them in coming forward and sharing their experiences.

For too long, these complaints have gone unaddressed and in some cases, I understand the victims coming forward have been advised not to take them further because it may affect their career.

There is not a robust system for staff to report abuse in Parliament in confidence, and this needs to change.

This abuse must not be tolerated.

There needs to be an independent watchdog that can hear reports of alleged sexual abuse and harassment in the Houses of Parliament.

We have a duty to those who have come forward, as well as to the countless others who felt they could not.

We must act now and make sure the era of this sort of behaviour is over for 
good.