2,500 fight proposed Sudbury fire cuts

Firefighters and emergency services at the scene of the Sudbury town centre blaze last September

Firefighters and emergency services at the scene of the Sudbury town centre blaze last September - Credit: Archant

Almost 2,500 people in Sudbury have sent a resounding message to the county council to leave their local fire station alone.

The proposal to downgrade Sudbury fire station is part of a document – currently out for public consultation – in which the local authority sets out how it could save £1.3million from the fire service’s £22m budget by 2017/18. Across Suffolk as a whole, there have been 1,600 responses to the county-wide consultation so far.

But at a heated meeting last night at Sudbury Town Hall, attended by Chief Fire Officer Mark Hardingham, county council portfolio holder Matthew Hicks and around 200 members of the public, firefighters handed over nearly 2,500 completed responses specifically complaining about the Sudbury proposals. This now represents more than 60% of the total number of responses received.

If the proposals were to go ahead, one of Sudbury’s two on-call fire engines would be replaced with an unspecified smaller, cheaper rapid-response vehicle (RRV).

But since the devastating Sudbury blaze last September, which destroyed historic buildings in Friars Street and left 20 people homeless, emotions have been running high with hundreds of people choosing to voice their opinions on the proposed cuts.


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An action group – Sudbury and Cornard Against Fire Cuts – was formed to fight the downgrade, and both Sudbury and Cornard councils have backed the campaign to save the second appliance.

Many people at last night’s meeting were concerned there were no details in the proposal about what kind of RRV the fire engine would be replaced with.

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Mr Hardingham said it would not be a small 4x4 type vehicle, but would be nearer to a full sized fire engine. He said: “I would want the RRV to be the second fire engine in Sudbury and would expect it to respond to the same type of incidents as the second fire engine.”

Former firefighter Alan Humphreys suggested they should swap the fire engine at Nayland station with an RRV instead.

He said: “Due to lack of on-call cover, Nayland didn’t have a fire engine available for six days of this week which is not acceptable.

“We have two pumps in Sudbury that can deal with anything we can throw at them. If we change one for an RRV and the first pump is called out, we are going to be left with what is essentially a van.”

John Bromley, officer in charge at Sudbury fire station agreed. He said: “In Nayland they are struggling for manpower. An RRV can be manned with two or three fire fighters. Put it in Nayland and leave Sudbury alone.”

Mr Hardingham said they had looked at every station in Suffolk and had come up with what they thought was the “best solution.”

Many people at the meeting were concerned about whether their views would be taken into consideration or whether the cuts were a “done deal”. Mr Hicks said: “I can assure you that this is an absolutely genuine consultation and the views you have expressed in these 2,500 responses will be considered.

“On February 22 (when the consultation ends), we will sit down and 100% consider all of the responses received.”

The consultation will run for another two weeks after which a detailed report will be presented for the county council’s cabinet to make a decision.

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