Proposed Suffolk fire service cuts ‘absurd’
- Credit: James Bass
Proposals to close a fire station and reduce the number of fire engines on the streets of Suffolk have been branded 'ridiculous and absurd'.
Wrentham fire station – which was built during the 1950s – is earmarked for closure, while Lowestoft South fire station would lose one on-call engine, if proposals from Suffolk County Council are accepted next year.
With the future provision for Suffolk's fire and rescue service due to be discussed by the county's cabinet next Tuesday, a 14-week consultation looks set to be launched ahead of a final decision in April or May next year.
And today the EDP's Save Our Stations campaign – launched in response to proposed cuts to Norfolk's fire stations – is extended to Suffolk, after successfully staving off the worst of the cuts in Norfolk.
Among the proposals is the closure of Wrentham fire station, on Chapel Road, and removing the single fire engine which is crewed by on-call firefighters. If this goes ahead, emergencies in the Wrentham area would be dealt with by the surrounding fire stations – predominantly from Lowestoft South and Reydon and Southwold – according to the county council.
Ian Watson, vice-chairman of Wrentham Parish Council, said the 950 or so residents in Wrentham take comfort from having the fire station in the village. He said: 'It all boils down to the speed of response. There are a lot of thatched and timber-framed buildings here which are more susceptible to fire.'
At Lowestoft, where there are four fire engines; the proposal is to remove one of these four engines based at Lowestoft South fire station and crewed by on-call firefighters.
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The chairman of the Suffolk branch of the Fire Brigades' Union, Andy Vingoe, said: 'These proposals are ridiculous and absurd. There are very serious safety concerns and we shall do all we can to oppose them.'
Suffolk's cabinet member for environment and public protection, Matthew Hicks, insisted the changes would only be implemented once they have been through a full public consultation. He said: 'I am confident that these proposals mean we can continue to deliver an outstanding service to the residents of Suffolk.'