Suffolk Fire Service cuts petition goes to full council today

Bury firefighters with the petition. ANL-160216-134233009
Bury firefighters with the petition. ANL-160216-134233009

The petition against fire service cuts goes before a full meeting of Suffolk County Council this afternoon and gets opposition backing.

The meeting at Endeavour House in Ipswich at 2pm will hear from petitioners and consider a motion from Liberal Democrat and Labour councillors that the plans to remove appliances from Bury, Ipswich, Lowestoft, Sudbury and Wrentham be dropped.

The petition, which gained more than 6,000 signatures, also calls for the decisions on fire service ‘integrated risk management plans’ should be made by the full council, not its nine cabinet members.

The motion to scrap the cuts has been proposed by Liberal David Wood and seconded by Labour leader Sandy Martin.

Cllr Martin is expected to tell the meeting that the future of the services is ‘above petty Party differences’.

He is expected to compare spending on a fire service with buying insurance and to say: “If your house has not fallen down after 20 years do you decide to stop bothering to insure it on the grounds that it’s been fine for 20 years? Of course you don’t. And the people of Suffolk will regard a similar approach to the Fire Service as a monstrously risky false economy.”

He will also call on ruling Conservatives to back the motion ‘so that the Cabinet can be in absolutely no doubt about the expressed will of this Council as representatives of the people of the whole of Suffolk’.

The fire service budget is to be cut by £1.34 million by April 2018 to cope with a reduction in the county council’s government funding.

Last month, before consultation closed, Cllr Matthew Hicks, cabinet member for environment and public protection, said: “We have developed our proposals for consultation, taking into account the emergencies we have attended over the last five years and looking at risk in Suffolk.

“We believe that our proposals will mean we can continue to provide what is an effective response to emergencies wherever and whenever these occur.”