Sudbury Town Council opposes fire service cuts

Sudbury's protest against the loss of the town's second fire engine. ANL-151027-135656009
Sudbury's protest against the loss of the town's second fire engine. ANL-151027-135656009
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Sudbury Town Council has backed Sudbury’s firefighters by voting to oppose county plans to remove the town’s second fire engine.

As part of budget cuts which will see reductions across the county, Suffolk County Council has proposed to replace the second appliance with an unspecified rapid response vehicle (RRV).

At Tuesday’s full council meeting members backed a proposal by Luke Cresswell to oppose these plans as they were “not in the interest of the town or the people”.

All but two councillors voted in favour of Mr Cresswell’s motion.

Serving and former firefighters applauded passionate speeches in favour of the retention of the second engine and concerns over the safety of the town.

But they reacted angrily to David Holland and Simon Barrett’s abstention from the vote.

Mr Holland later explained that he felt they had simply not received enough information about the proposed changes, in particular the RRV which the council had not given any detail on size or type of vehicle, the equipment it will carry or the number of staff needed to crew it.

“There is absolutely not enough detail in what is being proposed,” he said.

“I will respond when I get more clarity. I am not your opponent but I will not be rushed or bullied.

“I have an interest in this. I have seen your guys save my shop three weeks before the big fire [In Market Hill on September 6].”

Roy Humphreys, secretary of the Suffolk branch of the Fire Brigades Union, said the recent house fire in Great Cornard showed how important maintaining the current level of service was.

Firefighter Andy Vingoe explained crews had in recent weeks attended two house fires and a flat fire in Sudbury and Great Cornard

He said there had been no decline in the number of call outs, showing the level of service needed to be maintained.

Councillor Mick Cornish, who is also a parish councillor in Great Cornard, also pointed to the fire in Great Cornard on January 5, as evidence of the need for two engines.

He questioned removing the second engine when the area was expecting a major population increase.

There was significant criticism of the proposals and the consultation being carried out by Suffolk County Council.

Councillor Nigel Bennett, speaking about the lack of clarity over a new RRV said: “The consultation around Sudbury has a fundamental failure - it is not clear what we are getting.

“It doesn’t matter your view, I don’t see how anyone can support that.”

Mr Cresswell, along with firefighters, hit out at the “pathetic” consultation by the county council.

He said crew members were volunteering their time to speak to residents, gather opinions and help direct consultation responses, instead of county council officers.

The consultation on the proposed changes to Suffolk Fire and Rescue Service ends on February 22.

Visit www.suffolk.gov.uk/fireredesign for more information and to fill out the consultation.