Council criticised for lack of effort in informing residents of fire cuts proposals

Sudbury's protest against cuts to Sudbury fire station. ANL-151027-135656009
Sudbury's protest against cuts to Sudbury fire station. ANL-151027-135656009

An action group campaigning against the removal of Sudbury’s second fire engine has questioned the efforts of Suffolk County Council to inform people of the proposed cuts and to promote local meetings and the public consultation being carried out.

Sudbury and Cornard Against Fire Cuts, formed by concerned residents of Sudbury, Cornard and the wider area, has said it is disappointed to have to do what “Suffolk County Council should be doing”.

A spokesman for the group said a public meeting on Wednesday, February 3, at Sudbury Town Hall had barely been advertised by organisers Suffolk County Council.

The meeting is to discuss planned countywide cuts as the council looks to save £1.3million from the county’s fire services.

As part of these cuts it has been proposed Sudbury’s second engine would be replaced with a rapid response vehicle.

However, there is no specification as to the type of vehicle to be used, the equipment it would carry or the number of jobs that would be lost as a result.

The spokesman said: “The claim that the county council wants as many people to respond as possible just doesn’t seem very genuine.”

Ellen Murphy, Sudbury town councillor and group member added: “We shouldn’t be having to remind people about this. It should be the county council doing that.

“Very little effort has been made by our county council to encourage people along. It’s as if they don’t want many responses, then they can justify their decisions.”

She also feels the consultation process is excluding a large part of the community.

“It’s asking people to do everything online,” she said.

“It has escaped the council that not everyone has access to, or is comfortable using a computer. Particularly elderly residents.

“And there is one meeting at half six in the evening, on a weekday. When there are no buses running and a lot of people are working or settling their children down for the evening.

“It’s simply not good enough. The Market Hill fire shocked so many of us. They should be making more effort.”

Mrs Murphy has written to Mark Hardingham, Chief Fire Officer with her concerns.

The campaign group has been meeting residents in Sudbury, gathering their views as well as helping people take part in the consultation, and says they have seen overwhelming support for retaining Sudbury’s second fire engine.

The group hopes as many people as possible will attend the meeting on February 3.

To attend the meeting which takes place from 6.30-8.30pm on Wednesday, February 3 at Sudbury Town Hall, please email fireserviceredesign@suffolk.gov.uk to help the team to ensure that there are sufficient facilities available.

In addition to the meetings hosted by Suffolk Fire and Rescue Service (SFRS), officers and councillors have also been invited to attend a number of other town, parish and area meetings and dates are published on the SFRS website as they are confirmed.

The details of those meetings can be found on the Fire Service Redesign page at www.suffolk.gov.uk/emergency-and-rescue/fire-service-redesign/#tab4.