Consultation is given go-ahead for proposed fire service cuts in Suffolk
Proposed cuts to the fire service in Suffolk have been described as “cutting through the bone”.
Tonight, Matthew Hicks, cabinet member for environment and public protection at Suffolk County Council, faced questions and concerns at a cabinet meeting over the plans to axe a number of fire engines and one fire station.
Suffolk County Council is aiming to save £1.3million from the fire service’s £22m budget by 2017/18.
The proposals include replacing one of the two fire engines at Sudbury with a rapid response-type vehicle, removing one of the three fire engines at Bury St Edmunds, reducing the fire engines at Ipswich from six to three and closing Wrentham fire station.
Tonight, Suffolk County Council’s cabinet agreed to begin public consultation into the plans, starting from Monday until February 22.
During the discussion, councillor David Wood, leader of the Liberal Democrat and Independent Group and also a former firefighter, said: “I think these [proposals] are going far too far. We are not only cutting to the bone, we are cutting through the bone.
“I’m pleased to hear it’s a meaningful consultation. I will certainly be monitoring it.”
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Councillor Peter Gardiner, Labour spokesman for public protection, said Labour councillors believed the proposals would be “an unacceptable level of cuts”. “We have got to continue to defend our firefighters,” he said.
After the meeting, Roy Humphreys, Suffolk secretary for the Fire Brigades Union, said: “The firefighters here are extremely disappointed. We oppose these proposed cuts for the simple reason they are simply dangerous. Lives and property will be put at risk.”
Mr Hicks said he believed with the changes “we can continue to deliver a great service to the residents of Suffolk”.