Ipswich/Suffolk: Ben Gummer joins fight to save county’s police control room
10:51 17 March 2014
The campaign to save Suffolk’s police control room has been joined by Ipswich MP Ben Gummer.
He warned that a merger with Norfolk would be unpopular in Suffolk, could create risks across the county – and would probably not make the predicted savings.
He said it made more sense to combine police, fire, and ambulance control from Suffolk in one control room.
Mr Gummer was speaking after meeting Suffolk Police and Crime Commissioner Tim Passmore at the police headquarters at Martlesham.
He said: “So far as I am concerned the police control room is part of the front line of policing. It is the first point of contact for most members of the public who need police action. My constituents believe that it is important that the person at the end of the phone knows the county and is in the county.”
He said both the ambulance and fire mergers had thrown up serious problems, adding: “I have just spoken to one woman in the control room who previously worked at fire control (before it merged with Cambridgeshire) and that was not a great success.”
It was revealed that fire appliances had been sent to the wrong communities by controllers unfamiliar with Suffolk. Mr Gummer said the savings have not been as great as had been expected, and there had been extra costs that came in as working practices in Suffolk had to be changed to take account of the way Cambridgeshire worked.
He said the possibility of creating a county control room for all the blue light services made more sense.
There were many other ways of saving money – like sharing public sector buildings and services.
Mark Sanderson, Suffolk Fire and Rescue Service’s deputy chief fire officer, said: “Working with Cambridgeshire still represents significantly increased value for money for the people of Suffolk and Cambridgeshire, compared to operating two separate 999 fire controls.
“We now share the running costs and any investment in new equipment is shared equally, reducing the investment that we would have been required to improve our own control, if we had continued to operate this.”