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Last chance to have your say on proposed fire cuts in Lowestoft and Wrentham

Firefighters at the scene of a fire at Lowestoft Touring Caravans on South Lowestoft Industrial Estate. 

PHOTO: Nick Butcher

Firefighters at the scene of a fire at Lowestoft Touring Caravans on South Lowestoft Industrial Estate. PHOTO: Nick Butcher

©archant2016

People have just a few days left to register their views about proposed cuts to the area’s fire service.

Firefighters’ views

The Journal started its Save Our Stations campaign after seeing the strength of public opposition to the plans to remove a fire engine from Lowestoft and close Wrentham fire station.

With three fire engines required to go to reports of a house fire, residents have expressed concerns about whether the town would have enough fire cover in the event of multiple emergencies.

And it is not just the public – firefighters themselves have come out against the proposals.

Oliver Kent, 22, of Laurel Road, Lowestoft, who is an on-call firefighter at Lowestoft South, said: “I don’t agree with the proposals. I don’t think they should be cutting the fire service at all – they should be finding the money elsewhere.”

Peter Brown, 34, of Poplar Road, Carlton Colville, a full-time firefighter at Lowestoft South, added: “As a firefighter I understand how important it is to keep fire engines active, because when you get incidents you very quickly need more help – and that can have a massive impact on the outcome. By cutting two fire engines from our area, I’m worried it could have a massive impact on how we deal with things and the speed of getting fire engines to incidents.

“It’s nice to see people who’ve got the same sort of concerns we have. I understand the senior managers have a very difficult job because of cuts by government, but I’d argue we’d like to see more money spent on other areas.”

Phil Johnston, secretary of the Fire Brigades Union Lowestoft branch, said at the recent meetings: “The public have definitely showed their feelings. I think the chief and the councillor were quite surprised by the response. They can’t be let off the hook. Ultimately this is a political decision that has been government-led.

“The government found billions to bail out the banks. The whole fire service costs a fraction of that.

“It is a political will as much as anything. We hope the public response will overcome that.”

Almost 4,000 questionnaires have been returned by people in Suffolk and organisations in response to county council proposals which include closing Wrentham fire station and removing one fire engine in Lowestoft, leaving the town with three. People have until next Monday to send in a response to the proposals to restructure the service, which were unveiled at the end of last year.

Matthew Hicks, Suffolk County Council’s cabinet member for public protection, said: “I am delighted that we have already received close to 4,000 completed questionnaires and many enquiries from people engaging with the consultation.

“The public meetings organised by the fire service have been well attended and have helped us to explain the proposals, whilst giving people the opportunity to talk to us and have their say.

“We want as many people as possible to engage with this consultation so I would urge anyone who wants to give their views to do so before 5pm on February 22. We will listen to all views before any final plans are agreed.”

Details of the consultation and the questionnaire can be found at www.suffolk.gov.uk/fireredesign

What do you think of the plans to cut the fire service in the Lowestoft area? 
Write, giving your full 
contact details, to: 
Journal Postbox, 147
London Road North, Lowestoft NR32 1NB or alternatively you can email the editor on andrew.papworth@archant.co.uk


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