Suffolk: Fire crews heading to London to protest cuts
suffolk: The county’s fire crews will descend on London this weekend to demonstrate against drastic cuts in the service.
The march and rally, organised by the Trade Union Congress (TUC), will see firefighters from across the country head to the capital in a mass march and rally.
Union members from East Anglia are angry with the proposed cutbacks which they claim will result in the loss of 250 full-time firefighter posts – a cut in the workforce of 10 per cent.
In Felixstowe, the fire service is proposing to replace full-time crews with retained cover. The Evening Star is campaigning against this move.
Adrian Clarke, regional secretary of the Fire Brigades Union, described the cuts as the worst attack in living memory.
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He said: “Firefighters are drawn to the service with an overwhelming desire to help others and will during their careers face dangers and see indescribable horrors.
“We have always felt valued for the service we provide. However there is growing anger as firefighters see the real effects of government funding cuts putting their safety and the safety of the public at risk.
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“And to rub salt into the wounds, we see bankers enjoying their massive bonuses while those risking their lives on the frontline of our life-saving service are suffering a painful pay freeze, hikes in our pension contributions and attacks on the pensions we will receive.
“The cuts arising from the comprehensive spending Review threaten to do lasting damage to frontline services.”
The union claims that in addition to the cuts, retained staff are being squeezed, response standards are being reduced and corners are being cut to mask the effects.
A spokesman for Suffolk County Council said: “Suffolk is one of the safest counties in the country and while we are proposing some significant changes, we are satisfied this will remain the case.
“Our proposals ensure that there will be no reductions in the number of fire engines or fire stations across Suffolk, the changes will only be to the way we crew three of these fire engines.”
Crews from around the country will be meeting at Embankment at 1.30pm on Saturday. Campaign speeches will be relayed via video to Hyde Park.
n What do you think of the fire cuts? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN, or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.