Category Archives: Fire Services

Fire Cuts Still On The Agenda

Despite the best efforts of the Opposition Parties at the Suffolk County Council meeting of 17th March 2016 life threatening cuts  to the Fire and Rescue Services  are still on the Conservative administration’s agenda.

The motion to rule out these changes – put forward by Lib Dem Leader David Wood and seconded by the Leader of the Labour Group – was narrowly defeated by 36 votes to 35 at yesterdays Council Meeting.

Earlier, the Portfolio Holder Cllr Matthew Hicks had refused the FBU petition calling for the cuts to be the subject of a decision and debate by full council, despite a impassioned speech by the Fire Brigades Union rep Steve Hayward. (A speech that bought a standing ovation from opposition councillors ; sadly the Conservatives sat on their hands).

In a debate lasting 2 hours many worthwhile and important points were raised by opposition councillors as to why these cuts should not take place and why the safety of the people of Suffolk should come first. Time and time again, the Conservatives kept insisting that they were waiting for the results of the consultation to be made public before any decision is made.

But who will make that decision – the Cabinet and to quote the Public Protection Portfolio Holder Cllr Matthew Hicks “It Is important for the council to balance its books so the Fire Service must play its part”. Hence the reason for our motion, to let all of the elected representatives have their say on your Fire Service and its future.

During a passionate summing up Cllr David Wood referred to the extra money the council had been granted from the government from its rural sparsity fund ( a nice round £6.8m over the next 2 years), asking “Instead of putting it into reserves, shouldn’t a proportion of that be used to save these cuts? after all it does belong to the taxpayers of Suffolk!

(Apropos  of this, Cllr Wood was  asked to withdraw his description of senior Conservative Cllr Guy McGregor stating “lets not waste money“. In the interests of keeping the  meeting going he did so –   however, if you listen to the Suffolk County Webcast   do be sure to listen carefully to the Councillor, and especially his closing words.)

We may have lost the first round but the fight will continue to make sure the residents have a Fire Service that is fit for purpose.

Cllr David
Leader Lib Dem & Independent Party

Suffolk Fire & Rescue: Cuts Could Cost Lives

Suffolk Lib Dems are joining forces with the County Council Labour Group at the County Council meeting this coming Thursday (17th March) in a joint motion to try and overturn the proposed cuts to the Suffolk Fire & Rescue Service .
The motion:-

“This Council believes that the reductions in fire appliances and crews as recommended in the Suffolk Fire Service Risk Management Plan 2015 – 18 would pose a serious threat to the safety of the residents of Suffolk, their homes and their businesses.

The Council therefore calls upon the Cabinet to approve and IRMP which excludes the following proposals:-

Bury St Edmunds proposal:  To remove one on- call fire engine from Bury St Edmunds Fire Station, and make consequent reduction to associated on -call firefighter posts.

Ipswich proposal:  To remove two fire engines from Princes Street Fire Station and one fire engine from Ipswich East Fire Station, and make consequent reductions to associated whole-time and on-call firefighter posts.

25102013254 (2)Lowestoft proposal:  To remove one on-call fire engine from the Lowestoft South Fire Station, and make consequent reductions to associated on-call posts.

Sudbury proposal:  To replace one of the fire engines at Sudbury with a rapid response type firefighting vehicle, and make consequent reductions to associated on-call firefighter posts.

Wrentham proposal:  To close Wrentham Fire Station and remove the fire engine, and make consequent reductions to associated on-call firefighter posts.

By proposing this motion to the  Full Council this will give everybody a chance to debate in full the devastating effect these cuts will have on the County of Suffolk. We have cast political differences aside to enable this debate to take place, something that would have been denied if just left to the Cabinet.

We firmly believe that the safety of the residents of Suffolk should come first which is why we are saying NO to these proposed cuts. Hopefully a majority of YOUR COUNCILLORS will agree with us and support this motion.

David Wood
Leader Lib Dem & Ind. Group

 

Swift to Serve!!! ‘Severest cut’ to Suffolk’s Fire Services?

Now we know it- the Conservative administration are planning to cut £1.3m from the Fire Service budget of £21m!

This means they are proposing the severest cut ever seen to the Suffolk Fire Service, whose proud motto is Swift to Serve . With these proposed cuts, will they be able to live up to it , one wonders!

They are proposing to reduce the whole time establishment at Prnces Street Ipswich from 48 to 28, removing the On Call firefighters and two fire engines. At Ipswich East they are removing one fire engine and several On Call firefighters; the same is happening at Lowestoft South and Bury St Edmunds. At Wrentham they are closing the Fire Station altogether, whilst at Sudbury – the scene of a major fire recently -they are removing one fire engine and replacing it with a rapid response vehicle  (whatever that might be). One Senior Officer post is also going as well as three civlian posts.

What does this mean to you the public of Suffolk?

Today, when the cuts were announced, there were at least 7 Fire Stations unable to provide cover:  Framlingham, Aldeburgh, Wrentham, Eye, Needham Market, Nayland & Brandon with Princes Street “On Call Firefighters” unavailable at sometime during the day. Last Monday, 26th October, there were 20 Fire Stations out of a total of 35 unavailable for some part of the day! Where does the cover come from to fill in these holes in our Fire Cover? mainly from the wholetime firefighters based at Princes Street. However, with these proposed cuts this will no longer be able to happen.

With the population of Ipswich due to increase and several more high rise accomodation blocks planned the Fire Service will struggle to meet its agreed pre determined attendance to these properties, is it a risk you are prepared to take.

One simple solution:  a rise of less than 1% in the council tax could prevent these cuts (its up to you)  – or  of course they could go back and look for cuts elsewhere.

Ahead of this action, Suffolk County Council will now undertake a 14 week consultation period to allow you, the public of Suffolk, to have your say. If you value your Emergancy Service I urge you to have your say and say No to these drastic cuts.

It is rumoured that the Cabinet Member for Public Protection is prepared to take what he calls” these acceptable risks”.

To you the people of Suffolk, I ask:  “Are these RISKS ACCEPTABLE TO YOUR LIVES, YOUR PROPERTY & YOUR LIVELIHOODS?” I think not. We are already one of the lowest costing Fire Services in the country .

Enough is enough. Please have your say in this public consultation and help save our Fire Service.

David Wood

Leader Lib Dem Group.

Fire Cuts – Enough is Enough

Suffolk already has the leanest and meanest Fire Service in the Country and following yesterdays announcement the Council are proposing to take a further £1m from an already stretched budget.

The Chief Fire Officer Mark Hardingham and the new Portfolio Holder Cllr Matthew Hicks are proposing a public consultation exercise to gain the views of the Suffolk public. I urge you to take part in this consultation and say ENOUGH IS ENOUGH. We have already seen Felixstowe Fire Station cease to have any wholetime Firefighters, Haverhills wholetime establishment cut and a cut in the number of wholetime Firefighters across the county.

Only today June 24th at 11:30 there were 10 Fire Stations off the run, including such stations as Hadleigh, Debenham, Framlingham and Adleburgh to name but 4. A further station was short crewed meaning it could not attend property fires and a further 2 had appliances off the run. So you can see further cut to our already stretched service would impact further on the safety of the residents of Suffolk.

So now is the chance for you to have your say –  details here -and I urge you to say NO MORE CUTS.

David Wood

Leader Suffolk Lib Dems

Spokesperson Fire & Public Protection