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Clarke backs Star campaign

PUBLISHED: 18:22 13 September 2002 | UPDATED: 12:39 03 March 2010

A SENIOR cabinet minster today gave his backing to The Evening Star's campaign to save Suffolk Fire Service's marine unit.

Labour Party Chairman Charles Clarke - a senior member of the cabinet and Tony Blair's chief "bruiser" is an East Anglian MP.

A SENIOR cabinet minster today gave his backing to The Evening Star's campaign to save Suffolk Fire Service's marine unit.

Labour Party Chairman Charles Clarke – a senior member of the cabinet and Tony Blair's chief "bruiser" is an East Anglian MP.

He represents Norwich South in the House of Commons – and when he was told about the Star's campaign he promised to take it up with ministerial colleagues.

"I was not familiar with the proposals until I was told about the Star campaign. Offshore safety must be paramount in any review and I will do what I can to ensure that it remains the top priority," he said.

Mr Clarke knew about the fire on the Norsea ferry off the Norfolk coast earlier this month, but had not been aware that could have been the last incident attended by the Suffolk unit.

That is due to be disbanded next week as a cost-cutting measure, but the amount saved could be as little as £9,000 a year and our campaign has attracted scores of responses from concerned readers.

We gave Mr Clarke copies of the Star outlining the concerns as he travelled on a new train linking the East Anglian cities of Norwich and Cambridge.

However he had so many other people to meet during the journey that he left our papers on his seat – so we have sent duplicates to his constituency office in Norwich.

Meanwhile we have sent copies of the 20 questions we have for Transport Secretary Alistair Darling and shipping minster David Jamieson to their office in Whitehall.

We sent them by post and also by e-mail, but we have not yet had a response.

"We are still in the process of moving offices – many of us are moving this weekend so a response may be delayed, I'm afraid," said a spokesman for the Department for Transport.

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