Strong opposition to planned cuts at Bury fire station, consultation results reveal

Firefighters from Bury St Edmunds pictured with the appliance that may be lost due to cut backs. ANL-151125-174751009
Firefighters from Bury St Edmunds pictured with the appliance that may be lost due to cut backs. ANL-151125-174751009
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Planned cuts at Bury St Edmunds fire station have been met with fierce opposition, consultation results have revealed.

Suffolk Fire and Rescue Service has published all of the feedback received as part of its Integrated Risk Management Plan consultation into proposed £1.34 million cuts for the county’s fire service.

The people of Suffolk do not want their fire service to be cut

Sandy Martin, Labour Group leader

The proposals would see Bury fire station lose one of its three fire engines and up to 10 on-call firefighters.

A document, produced by Opinion Research Services, contains the feedback from everyone who completed an online questionnaire and/or submitted their view through another relevant format.

In total 1,654 questionnaires were completed with only just over one in 10 respondents (13 per cent) agreeing that, within the context of the risks and financial challenges facing the service and reduced levels of 999 call demand, it is reasonable for Suffolk Fire and Rescue to remove the third fire engine from Bury fire station.

More than three quarters of respondents (77 per cent) disagreed, with just over three fifths (61 per cent) strongly disagreeing.

Meanwhile, 6,184 people signed a petition organised by the Bury St Edmunds on-call firefighters called ‘Petition Against Cuts to Suffolk Fire and Rescue Service’.

In addition, 5,255 people signed a petition opposing the Integrated Risk Management Plan proposals and calling for the full Suffolk County Council to vote on them, as opposed to cabinet only. This was organised by the Ipswich Labour Party in conjunction with the Fire Brigades Union.

The results come after a cross-party motion to shelve the plans was defeated by a single vote just over two weeks ago.

Labour Group leader Sandy Martin, who put forward the motion alongside Cllr David Wood, said the people of Suffolk have ‘spoken loud and clear - they do not want their fire service to be cut’.

He added: “It seems totally undemocratic to me for an important decision like this - which has county-wide implications – to be taken by just nine Conservative councillors that sit in cabinet, rather than the full council of 75 that represent all the people of Suffolk.

“The mandate from the public is clear. Will the cabinet do their democratic duty by acknowledging the results of the consultation and voting against these cuts? We can only wait and see.”

Matthew Hicks, cabinet member for environment and public protection, said: “I would like to thank everyone who took the time to provide feedback on our Integrated Risk Management Plan.

“We have received a large amount of feedback from people either attending public meetings, by going along to a focus group, inviting us to attend a locally organised meeting, completing an online survey form or by writing or talking to us.

“I want to reiterate no decisions have been made and I am working with the Chief Fire Officer to ensure that we fully take into account the report when the Integrated Risk Management Plan is presented to the council’s cabinet on May 17.”

Mark Hardingham, Suffolk Fire and Rescue Service’s chief fire officer added: “The report demonstrates the lengths we have gone to in providing people with the opportunity to have their say.

“The feedback we now have will help to shape future recommendations.”

Full details can be found at www.suffolk.gov.uk/fireredesign