A REPORT which claimed hard times were ahead for North Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service has been met with criticism.

On Tuesday, Julia Mulligan - who last week became North Yorkshire Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner - revealed details of an independent report into the fire service’s strengths and weaknesses.

The report said the fire service was in an “unsustainable financial position”, using reserves to plug financial holes, and Mrs Mulligan said “tough decisions will have to be made” going forward.

York Labour Group’s fire spokesman, Cllr Danny Myers, said interpretation of the report was key.

Cllr Myers said: “The report claims that the service has been overly reliant on its reserves, however, what it doesn’t say is that the Government Minister for fire has repeatedly told Fire Services around the country that they will not receive any extra funding from Government until they use their reserves. Whilst this is clearly unsustainable, it is yet again another hangover of the dreadful austerity agenda brought in by Tories and Lib Dems since 2010.

“After eight years, North Yorkshire residents get a slower response time to their 999 calls, it’s absolutely outrageous and very dangerous. And people will now see that the new Commissioner for the Fire Service will start to cut away engines and possibly even stations from our communities.”

North Yorkshire Brigade Secretary Steve Howley said the report “lays bare the results of Tory Austerity”.

He said: “NYFRS has seen year on year cuts to central funding for almost a decade. NYFRS are currently enduring cuts of 18 per cent to funding between 2016 and 2020, there’s is no wonder Mrs Mulligans report shows a service with a financial black hole and response times 2.4 minutes longer than the average in England.”

Mr Howley said the FBU “will continue to strive to defend and improve fire cover and protect public and firefighter safety in North Yorkshire”, despite ongoing austerity.

Baroness Kath Pinnock, spokesperson for communities, local government and fire services, is set to raise the takeover in the House of Lords next week, and call for a motion of regret “in order to place on record our dissent with Government policy and its impact not just on North Yorkshire, but equally, a variety of areas across the country, with unpopular and unwanted fire service take overs”.

Lib Dem Cllr Keith Aspden, deputy chair of the Local Government Association fire services management committee, said: “Our communities and local authorities have already expressed serious concerns that the proposals could severely impact on the fire services’ capacity to serve residents across our local area. This includes all local political parties, North Yorkshire County Council, City of York Council, and the North Yorkshire Police and Crime Panel.”