Norfolk fire chief optimistic that cuts to cover can be avoided

Norfolk's chief fire officer Roy Harold.

Norfolk's chief fire officer Roy Harold. - Credit: Eastern Daily Press © 2015

Norfolk's fire chief has said he is optimistic cuts which would have led to fire crews being downgraded will be avoided.

Fire stations and fire cover were at risk because Norfolk County Council, looking to plug a £111m spending gap, was considering millions of pounds of cuts. But political leaders at County Hall this week signalled they intend to raise council tax by 3.99pc, allowing most savage cuts to be avoided. Although £42m of cuts would still happen, they would mainly involve back-office savings.

The EDP had, through its Save Our Stations campaign, urged a rethink over plans to shut Heacham, Outwell and West Walton fire stations, which were all under threat.

They will survive, if the full council agrees the currently proposed budget when it meets on February 22.

But the Norfolk branch of the Fire Brigades Union remained concerned crews at Gorleston and King's Lynn North could still be downgraded. They said that would mean both would lose a fire engine at night.

However, Roy Harold, chief fire officer, said he believed that could also be avoided. He said the amount the service needed to save from operational support was being reduced by £300,000, from £1.2m to £900,000.

And he said: 'What we are going to do is use that money to try to improve rural fire cover and if we do, then the money will mean King's Lynn and Gorleston are not downgraded.'

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