Plans to sell UK Fire Service College 'outrageous'

Crews dealing blaze at Fire Service College in May 2009
Image caption The 500-acre government-owned site has been run as a trust since 1992

A union has said government plans to sell the UK Fire Service College in Gloucestershire were "outrageous".

The Communities Minister said selling the college was the best way of securing its future and relieving the government of financial risk.

Prospect, which represents more than 70 staff at the college, said its members were worried about being transferred out of the public sector.

The 500-acre site, in Moreton-in-Marsh, has been run as a trust since 1992.

A report last year showed the government-owned site was "beset by debt and financial issues".

'Falling to bits'

Communities Minister Bob Neill said "disposal as a going concern" was the best option.

Philippa Childs, from Prospect, said: "The college is based in the middle of the Cotswolds, with training facilities considered to be the best in the world, but it's falling to bits.

"Government spending constraints have meant that no money could be spent on the infrastructure or recruitment, and staff have also faced a pay freeze."

The union said it used to be mandatory for all fire brigades to use the college for training, but problems had arisen when brigades were given the option of using other, private training providers.

'Only option'

Ms Childs said: "Our members are worried about being transferred out of the public sector, not least because of the potential impact on their pay, pensions and other terms and conditions.

"It is also outrageous that a national resource such as this, which provides vital training to a key emergency service, should be privatised and thus subject to market forces which rely on making a profit in order to function."

In a written statement last month, Mr Neill said: "Analysis of the four options showed disposal as a going concern to be the best option.

"It is the only option which both fully removed from government the ongoing financial risks of ownership of the college and preserves a national training college for the Fire and Rescue Service."

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