Labour and Liberal Democrat councillors unite in stand against proposed fire cuts for Suffolk

Firefighters and other protesters are joined by LibDem leader David Wood and Labour leader Sandy Mar

Firefighters and other protesters are joined by LibDem leader David Wood and Labour leader Sandy Martin before the Suffolk County Council budget meeting. - Credit: Archant

A public wave of anger against sweeping fire service cuts has been backed by two of Suffolk County Council’s opposition groups.

A series of public consultation events featured hundreds of residents across the county expressing their thoughts to council plans, which would see £1.3 million in the budget slashed.

Liberal Democrat councillors, who have teamed up with Labour party representatives, have estimated that around 90% who attended the consultation voiced their opposition to the cuts.

Now, Lib Dem and Labour councillors have put forward a joint motion against the Tory cabinet’s proposed cuts, demanding removal of clauses which they believe would pose a “serious threat to the safety of the residents of Suffolk, their homes and their business.”

Liberal Democrat leader and former firefighter, David Wood, said “Nine out of 10 people that participated in the consultation process oppose these changes.

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“People were crowding out venues, attending in their hundreds, to voice their disagreement and alarm at the planned cuts.

“Given the high level of public concern expressed against these proposals, it is only right that petty differences be put aside so that we can truly represent the will of Suffolk’s residents.”

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The joint motion was announced after the consultation period ended at 5pm yesterday.

Labour Group leader Sandy Martin added: “We want to make sure that this is a non-party political motion that truly reflects the real concerns of the people of Suffolk. For this reason, we have put in a joint-motion with the Liberal Democrats.”

“The level of public opposition to these proposals is extraordinary and impossible to ignore.”

The joint-motion is set to go before full council on March 17, with calls to remove proposals that will reduce the number of fire engines at Ipswich, Bury St Edmunds, Sudbury, Lowestoft and Wrentham fire stations.

Cabinet member for public protection and the environment at SCC, Matthew Hicks, said: “We thank the respondents in this consultation over the last 14 weeks.

“We have had more than 6,000 responses and we are now in the process of reviewing those.

“The proposal will be discussed at the cabinet meeting in May.”

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