12,000 people petition to stop Norfolk Fire Service cuts

Pete Greeves, left, and Kev Game from Norfolk Fire Brigades Union pictured with a petition against s

Pete Greeves, left, and Kev Game from Norfolk Fire Brigades Union pictured with a petition against service cuts.Picture: ANTONY KELLY - Credit: Archant

Petitions with a total of about 12,000 signatures have been handed into County Hall calling for no more cuts to Norfolk's fire and rescue service.

It comes as the public consultation into Norfolk County Council's proposals which would save £123m across its services over three years – including potentially £2.36m from the fire service budget – is to end on Thursday.

Norfolk County Council said it is 'faced with extremely difficult financial decisions' and encouraged people to submit their views.

The three petitions along with the Fire Brigades Union's formal response to the proposed cuts were given to Tom McCabe, Norfolk County Council's executive director of community and environmental services, yesterday.

Kev Game, secretary of the Fire Brigades Union in Norfolk, who delivered the documents with his chairman Peter Greeves, said: 'We just want the councillors to understand there are no more savings that we can give from the front line and our support staff.

'Any cuts or changes are going to have a detrimental effect on the safety of the people of Norfolk.

'We cannot keep cutting because there is no meat left on the bone to cut.'

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He said off-duty firefighters had received a wealth of support from the public when they were out and about collecting petition signatures.

That petition gathered about 10,000 signatures while two online petitions collected more than 1,300 and more than 500 signatures respectively.

'Handing the petitions in has sent a very clear message from the people of Norfolk – 12,000 people have said do not cut the fire service at all,' said Mr Game.

The EDP launched its Save Our Stations campaign when it emerged a potential 25pc cut to the fire service budget could see 18 fire stations shut.

The idea to close such a high number of fire stations has since been scrapped but the fire service is still facing a shake-up which could lead to a loss of up to 86 retained firefighters and the closure of two fire stations – Heacham and either West Walton or Outwell.

A council spokesman said: 'A significant reduction in central government funding means some services will have to change, particularly as these savings are on top of the £245m of reductions the council has already made in recent years.

'However, within the proposals there are a number of big choices to make, so it's vitally important residents have their say.

'No decisions have been made at this stage, so if you haven't already had a look at the consultation, please do so as it closes at midnight on Thursday.

In Suffolk, the county council is also looking at ways of reducing fire service costs – including removing full-time firefighters from central Ipswich and relying more heavily on part-time retained fire crews.

The closure of one fire station – Wrentham, between Lowestoft and Southwold, is also mooted.

To give your views in Norfolk County Council's budget consult-ation, visit www.norfolk.gov.uk

Where would you make cuts? Or would you raise taxes to protect services? Email edpletters@archant.co.uk, including your full name and address

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