Norfolk’s chief fire officer praises the support of Heacham residents who want to save their fire station

Norfolk chief fire officer Roy Harold speaking at the public meeting on the future of Heacham Fire S

Norfolk chief fire officer Roy Harold speaking at the public meeting on the future of Heacham Fire Station. Picture: Ian Burt - Credit: Ian Burt

Norfolk's chief fire officer has praised the support of residents who spoke out at a public meeting amid proposals to close Heacham Fire Station.

More than 100 people turned up to the meeting to voice their concerns regarding a proposal to close the station as part of Norfolk County Council's efforts to reduce spending by 25pc over the next five years, in a bid to plug a £111m funding gap.

Roy Harold, recently appointed chief fire officer, said he was pleased to see so many people cared enough about their local fire station to come to the meeting.

'The main message we want to get across is we are genuinely listening and we genuinely want to hear people's views,' he said.

'The last thing we want to do is close fire stations. It's not something we would do by choice. We are trying to find the least worse ways to find savings.'

But he added any outcome would not be a 'pain free' process.

Mr Harold said the service needed to take a 'balanced approach' and concentrate on prevention as much as the response, so people would not have to use fire and rescue in the first instance.

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He added they were asking the public whether their specialist water rescue and flooding service - by law not something they have to provide - should continue.

Peter Colvin, councillor for the Heacham ward, said: 'The general feeling was that Roy Harold did a very good job of trying to allay people's fears. There wasn't a lot of hostility, there were one or two people who asked some spiky questions but he dealt with them very well.

'He has offered to come and speak again to people if he needs to, beyond that it's looking forward to the budget meeting next year.'

Campaigner Tracey Swan said: 'I didn't want it to turn into a Roy bash and it wasn't, it was very nice. He was asked some tough questions but there was no 'it's your fault'.'

To respond to the consultation you can write to Budget Consultation, Norfolk County Council, Ground floor - south wing, County Hall, Martineau Lane, NR1 2DH or go to https://norfolk.citizenspace.com/consultation/re-imaginingnorfolkbudget/consultation