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Suffolk fire cuts motion blocked again

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Fire and Rescue news.

Campaigners who helped stop cuts to Sudbury fire station have been praised as Suffolk County Council Labour group again calls for cuts to Suffolk’s fire service to be dropped.

The group believe’s the majority Conservative party members on the county council have now been given every opportunity to drop the “unnecessary and unsafe” cuts to Suffolk Fire and Rescue Service.

The Labour motion, proposed with support from of all other opposition parties, which called for the cuts to the fire service to be dropped, was voted down by all members of the majority Conservative Group at today’s session of Full Council.

Following a heated debate on the impact of the cuts - which will reduce the number of full-time fire crews and appliances in Bury St Edmunds, Ipswich and Lowestoft - every Conservative councillor voted against the motion.

Councillor Hicks, cabinet member for public protection, was unwilling to pledge that the Conservative administration would not deliver further cuts to the Fire Service.

A Labour group spokesperson said: “The campaigns against these cuts in places like Sudbury were magnificent and all who took part should feel extremely proud.

“However, it unfortunately speaks volumes that Cllr Hicks was unwilling to guarantee that there would be no future cuts to the fire service. This should serve as warning that this is not over and that, after the elections in May 2017, more cuts are possible if the Conservatives are still in charge.”

In May Mr Hicks told the Free Press there could no be guarantees on the future of any engine or station in the county, but insisted there would be no reduction in fire stations, no further reduction in the number of fire engines and no further reduction in fire service funding until after the end of the current spending review in 2020.

“Lets be realistic, we don’t know where we will be going forward. There are all sorts of changes,” he said.

Suffolk FBU Secretary Roy Humphreys said: “As firefighters, we will continue to do the job of protecting the people of Suffolk. But these cuts are dangerous.

“The loss of engines and full time crews across the county will severely limit our ability to attend emergencies – and we are already missing our response times. This kind of unsafe cut puts the lives of the public and fire crews in danger.

“The firefighters and residents of Suffolk can clearly see that this administration have not listened to the public consultation because they are still cutting their fire service. The 20,000 plus residents who took the time to respond to the consultation clearly said ‘no to cutting the fire service in anyway’.

“To then state that they have listened is clearly an affront to all those people. Suffolk firefighters are fed up with the platitudes spoken by members of the administration and Cabinet.

“When you do a dangerous job that makes a real difference in your community, always giving your best and never giving up, it is sickening to see the administrations councillors cut the heart out of our vital emergency service.

“There can be no excuses or justification found for this dangerous practice from ‘balancing the books at all costs’, which has been this administration’s mantra from the very start.

“Quite simply they are putting lives at risk and they are all responsible for the consequences.

“Suffolk’s firefighters will not let this be forgotten when it comes to local elections next year.”

Labour Group Leader, Sandy Martin, who proposed the motion, said: “It goes without saying that none of these cuts are wanted – and nearly 20,000 Suffolk people support this view.

“While they have backed down on a couple of proposals which would hurt local Conservative councillors, the administration has still ignored the general public.

“Each elected member of Suffolk County Council’s Conservative Group has now been given every possible opportunity to take a stand against these fundamentally unsafe and unnecessary cuts to the Fire Service.

“Every elected member of the Conservative Group is now accountable for the consequences.”

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