Mid Suffolk residents at ‘increased risk’ if fire cuts go ahead says councillor

Debenham Fire Station ANL-160113-140106009
Debenham Fire Station ANL-160113-140106009
  • UKIP leader at county council slams government’s cuts to fire service
  • Claims mid Suffolk residents will be put at “increased risk”
  • Cllr Hicks: ‘Best opportunity to deliver a very good service’
  • SCC consultation to run until February 22
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The leader of UKIP at Suffolk County Council has blasted the government’s proposed fire brigade cuts — claiming mid Suffolk residents will be put at “increased risk” if they go ahead.

Bill Mountford, UKIP councillor for Lowestoft South, said the government’s claim that cuts would not effect quality of service in Suffolk was “blatant nonsense”.

The Conservatives say that they intend to rely on assistance from neighbouring authorities in a large scale incident. Unfortunately they are also relying on Suffolk, so it isn’t hard to imagine a scenario in which Suffolk and its neighbours find themselves dangerously over stretched

Bill Mountford

And he added a engine from Ipswich was “often” sent to Debenham to cover, due to on- call services in Debenham, Eye, Framlingham and Stradbroke being “off-line simultaneously”.

He said the cuts would lead to the loss of between 70 to 80 posts the equivalent of 20 full-time posts in the county.

A consultation by Suffolk County Council, seeking views on an Integrated Risk Management Plan and proposals for the way the fire service is structured across the county will run until 5pm on February 22.

The council say they “anticipate” further grant reductions from government, and are expecting to have to make savings of £1.34 million by April 2018.

“Due to the excellent fire prevention work undertaken by the Fire Service, the number of property fires in the county has, thankfully, decreased in recent years,” Mr Mountford said.

“However, given the construction methods and materials, ie thatch, of our many historic buildings, such falls cannot be expected to continue.

“The Conservatives say that they intend to rely on assistance from neighbouring authorities in a large scale incident. Unfortunately they are also relying on Suffolk, so it isn’t hard to imagine a scenario in which Suffolk and its neighbours find themselves dangerously over stretched.

“We are told that such incidents are rare but this is the same false logic that led to such loss of life on the Titanic.

“Rare incidents only need to happen once and we should plan for them – not hope they don’t happen.”

Matthew Hicks, Cabinet Member for Environment and Public Protection, said their proposals offer the “best opportunity” to deliver a “very good service”.

“These include the risk profile across the county; the number, location and type of fire stations and fire engines and the 999 call demand and casualty history over recent years - the details of which are all set out in the consultation documents and can be seen on our website,” he said.

“If on-call fire engines are not available, most likely to be during the day Monday to Friday, then the 3rd full time fire engine from Ipswich can be used to provide cover elsewhere, as often happens in Debenham. We continue to work hard to recruit on-call firefighters and have other plans in place to work more flexibly to improve the availability of on-call fire stations, not just in Debenham but elsewhere across the county.

Despite the financial challenges of recent years SCC has continued to invest in fire stations, training facilities, fire engines, firefighting clothing and equipment; and we have established a fantastic collaborative approach with Suffolk’s blue light emergency partners, with plans for more shared fire, police and ambulance stations in the future.”

Have your say on the consultation by visiting www.suffolk.gov.uk/fireredesign