Jobs at threat as fire control moves west

IPSWICH: Nearly two-thirds of Suffolk’s fire control staff face losing their jobs when their work is transferred to Cambridge, a union has claimed.

The Fire Brigades Union (FBU), which represents many of the staff at the fire control room in Ipswich, said some controllers had been told about the proposal at meetings yesterday.

The county council’s cabinet is to make a decision at its meeting on December 7.

The control is currently based at the Colchester Road fire station in Ipswich – but that is due to close in November next year.

The new regional control centre at Waterbeach, near Cambridge, had been due to be open by then – but problems with its computer systems mean its opening is now likely to be seriously delayed.

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That forced the council to look at other options, including setting up a temporary control room in Suffolk or divesting the control to another county in the meantime.

Suffolk brigade FBU chair Andy Vingoe said several options would be presented to next month’s cabinet meeting – but the preferred option would be moving in with Cambridgeshire control.

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He said: “It is the preferred option and they would want eight members of staff to go over to Cambridgeshire and we have 15 members of staff who would lose their jobs.”

Mr Vingoe said the union had two concerns – the loss of control staff jobs and the fact that the staff at Cambridgeshire might not have the local knowledge or detailed understanding of how Suffolk fire service operates.

A member of staff, who did not want to be named, said: “This has upset everybody and it has far-reaching implications for people in Suffolk.

“It is putting the people of Suffolk at risk. Everyone is absolutely gutted.”

Suffolk’s deputy chief fire officer Mark Hardingham said: “The previous Government took a decision in 2004 to combine the six fire and rescue service 999 control centres in the East of England, into a single regional control centre as part of a national project.

“Delays to this national fire control project, together with the requirement to have vacated the 999 fire control site by the end of 2011, has led to Suffolk Fire and Rescue Service having to consider a number of different options for the provision of its 999 Fire Control function.”

n Do you work at the control centre? Are you worried about your job? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or e-mail

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