March 7 2014 Latest news:
Wednesday, February 19, 2014
A petition has been launched as part of the campaign to fight proposals to remove all full-time firefighters from one of Suffolk’s biggest towns.
Hundreds of people have signed the Labour Party petition in the first few days – with organisers saying shoppers were adding their names faster than one a minute when they held a signing session in Felixstowe town centre.
Suffolk Fire and Rescue Service has been gradually reducing the number of full-time officers at the resort and is now preparing to leave only on-call crews covering the town and surrounding villages.
Concern has been voiced over the extra time it will take on-call crews to reach emergencies, especially as response times and appliance availabilty have declined following the initial cuts in full-time firefighters.
Town councillor Michael Sharman said: “I was overwhelmed by the response to this petition.
“People were actually demanding to sign rather than being asked. There were even occasions when shoppers were queueing to sign.
“There were angry residents who told me that they were tired of cuts for cut’s sake and that now a red line had to be drawn.
“Some were even willing to pay more council tax to improve services such as tackling the ever-increasing road potholes and, of course, providing adequate fire cover.
“The coalition Government fully backs localism – and this petition is localism in action.
“However, my real fear is that Suffolk County Council will only pay lip service to this concept and be more concerned to save £440,000 than to have proper regard for lives in Felixstowe and district.”
Felixstowe has 12,000 homes and 1,500 businesses, and is due to have 1,760 more homes. The town’s fire crews also support those at the port when there is a major incident.
Councillor Kimberley Williams said: “I think it is a step too far and completely illogical when Felixstowe is identified as an area for growth – with supermarket and major housing applications coming forward – and it is essential we retain our services.”
Fire chiefs say they have analysed the impact of each of the reductions in firefighters and the latest review supports the withdrawal of all full-time officers.
Public consultation is currently taking place and people have until March 4 to give their views.