Future of fire provision in Sudbury to be discussed as concern mounts over possible cutbacks

Firefighters and emergency services at the scene of the huge blaze at the Market Hill end of Friars

Firefighters and emergency services at the scene of the huge blaze at the Market Hill end of Friars Street in Sudbury - Credit: Archant

The future of fire service provision in the Sudbury area is to be discussed in the wake of the devastating blaze which ripped through the heart of the town a fortnight ago.

Since the fire in Friars Street, which left 20 people homeless and destroyed several businesses, South Suffolk MP James Cartlidge has received a number of emails and messages from local people concerned about the county council’s plans to reconfigure fire services in Suffolk – and the impact this could have on Sudbury and the surrounding areas.

Given the crucial role played by crews from across the county in tackling the blaze and associated rescue operation, many local people including Sudbury town councillor Luke Cresswell have expressed concerns that the possible closure of village stations like Long Melford, or the loss of one of Sudbury’s two pumps, could put lives at risk. As a result, Mr Cartlidge has now arranged a meeting with Matthew Hicks, the county council’s cabinet member for environment and public protection, and Chief Fire Officer Mark Hardingham to discuss the issue.

Mr Cartlidge said: “Given the scale of the fire and the shock it presented to the town, such concerns are quite understandable and I totally sympathise with the strength of feeling on the issue.

“However, we should remember that at this point in time there are no final proposals. The fire authority sought views earlier in the summer during a one month pre-consultation and are expecting to bring forward proposals to the Suffolk County Council cabinet meeting in November.

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“The fire authority then expects to start a detailed 14-week consultation that will inform any final decisions in April next year.

“I will therefore be meeting Matthew Hicks and Chief Fire Officer Mark Hardingham to emphasise that whatever plans they put forward must recognise the impact on Sudbury of the recent fire.

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“I will also be insisting that they look at all the options for our services to ensure a level of fire cover that is both reassuring to the public and affordable, rather than simply concluding with those options that present the largest budget savings.”

Mr Cresswell, who has been campaigning against the cuts, said it was “absolutely vital” that Sudbury remained a two-pump station, describing it as a “life or death decision.”

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