HELENSBURGH’S MP has raised his concern with the UK’s defence secretary at plans to cut specialist firefighting jobs at Faslane and Coulport.

Argyll and Bute MP Brendan O’Hara and his West Dunbartonshire colleague Martin Docherty-Hughes have contacted Ben Wallace to voice their fear at reported plans by private firm Capita – which has been responsible for fire and rescue cover at HM Naval Base Clyde since April 2020 under a £525 million contract – to cut jobs and use cover from the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service.

The two MPs say they are particularly worried about Capita’s plans in the light of the announcement by the Prime Minister of plans to expand the UK’s nuclear deterrent – all of which is currently based on the Clyde.

They said: “It is incredulous that the MoD would support a reduction in fire cover whilst HMNB Clyde is expanding, with more buildings and more people than ever before.

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“If ever the safety of the local population should be made a priority, it is now, and the best way to do that is to increase rather than decrease fire and rescue capacity.

“We are also concerned that Capita, in making job cuts to increase its own profits, will also be increasing the demand on the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service, which is a publicly funded resource.”

Capita says the number of jobs at risk is not as high as reported, and insists that there are no plans to place additional responsibilities on local SFRS crews.

A spokesperson said: “We have conducted a thorough review of fire risks at Faslane and Coulport with input from all relevant MoD stakeholders.

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“This included consultation with the SFRS and accounted for our investment in new technology to reduce fire risk.

“The review’s recommendation to adjust resourcing levels at both sites was ultimately approved by the MoD. This followed a lengthy process of scrutiny and four successful validatory exercises by our on-site fire station teams.

"We are committed to the delivery of better fire risk outcomes for the Ministry of Defence, its personnel, and our firefighters.”

A Royal Navy spokesperson said: “The defence fire and rescue contract aims to modernise the firefighting force with new vehicles, technology and training to provide a safer environment for both firefighters and those they protect.”

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