Felixstowe: Disappointment on lack of action over fire crew outcry

FELIXSTOWE: Community leaders have been left “surprised and disappointed” that county councillors have so far failed to take account of public opinion and withdraw moves to axe full-time fire crews.

Campaigners had been hoping county chiefs would have immediately withdrawn the proposals following the outcry over the idea and worries about fire safety.

More than 1,000 people have signed the Evening Star Save Our Fire Crews protest petition with hundreds more displaying stickers in their cars. But so far the council has stuck to its guns – with the cutting of the day-time full-time cover still incorporated within plans to save �43million this year.

Deputy mayor Doreen Savage, who is adamant that full-time crews must be kept, said she was “surprised and disappointed” that the county was pressing ahead.

Suffolk Coastal deputy leader Andy Smith said: “We all want to see these crews kept for the safety of our town but we have to make a proper case for that and we need to focus on doing that so that our voice is heard properly.

“For example, we have one road into this town and it is quite capable of being blocked, and also significant unique potential issues for a fire at the dock, with the potential for both those issues to combine and leave us in a very hazardous situation.”

County councillor Nick Barber said: “The 12-week consultation will be crucial and we will be inviting fire chief Andy Fry to come to the town and talk to people about what is planned.”

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He said if the cuts were approved by cabinet and then later changed after the consultation, fresh cuts to other services would have to be made.

“The budget will have to work and so there would have to be other cuts – there is not a lot of wriggle room,” he said.

If the full-time fire crews are cut, the town will rely on on-call firefighters as their frontline teams and they would be supported by back-up from Ipswich.

? What do you think of the proposed changes to fire cover? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich IP4 1AN, or e-mail eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk

n Sign the Save Our Fire Crews petition on line at www.eveningstar.co.uk or at our offices at 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich IP4 1AN, or 172 Hamilton Road, Felixstowe, IP11 7DU, where you can also pick up a free campaign car sticker.