A FORMER fire service borough chief has had his say on plans to change its frontline services.

John Harding, who served as Wigan borough’s fire commander from 2004 to 2009, questions whether the proposals will be able to protect residents.

The Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service (GMFRS) consultation, Programme for Change, is inviting people’s thoughts on its future.

GMFRS's budget for 2009/10 was £115.4m, but in 2018/19 it was slashed by around £18.5m to £96.9m.

The cost-cutting plans include GMFRS merging six fire stations into three new stations and the removal of nine fire engines.

There would also be a reduction of firefighters at all stations including Leigh, Atherton and Hindley and a loss of around 113 support staff.

The consultation closes on Friday, May 31, and the ex-fireman is urging people to provide their opinions.

John, 59, who is now a councillor for Atherleigh, said: “Having served in GMFRS for more than 33 years, I have attended countless operational incidents.

“In my opinion, I cannot see how reducing the number of personnel responding to fires and other incidents can enhance fire fighter safety nor protect the public as effectively as at present.

“Our firefighters deserve support and families deserve the best standard of service.

“It is a standard which has been maintained in London, Merseyside, West Yorkshire and South Yorkshire and should be maintained in Greater Manchester.

“I have submitted my personal response to this consultation and I would urge every resident to respond to it.

“It is about all our residents safety now and for the future.”

To fill in the consultation visit gmconsult.org.