CONTROVERSIAL proposals to downgrade Battle Fire Station are to be discussed at a public meeting on Thursday (June 5).
East Sussex Fire Authority is to meet to decide upon a raft of cost-cutting measures, including downgrading the town’s fire station to retained status.
The move would lead to the loss of nine wholetime posts.
A consultation period took place between February 17 and April 28.
During this time, residents from Battle and beyond wrote to Fire Authority members, signed petitions and expressed their dismay at the proposal at an emotionally-charged public meeting at Battle Memorial Hall.
And more than 150 people marched through the town in a noisy and lively protest against the plans, which they say will put lives at risk.
The Fire Authority and ESFRS is due to consider three proposals to help the service towards making savings of £7.1 million over the next five years.
If Battle Fire Station is downgraded, ESFRS says it could save £200,000 by 2018/19.
But if Battle is saved, it will be at the expense of The Ridge Fire Station in Hastings, which would lose one of its vehicles, saving the service £14,000 by 2018/19.
The Ridge, which provides vital back up and cover to villages in Rother, is also at risk of being changed from a wholetime station to a Day Crewed Plus station.
A similar proposal has been put forward for Roedean Fire Station in Brighton.
This measure would reduce the number of posts between the two centres by 20.
ESFRS says this would save £432,000 by 2018/19.
The service has an annual operating budget of just under £40m with funding from Council Tax, Business Rates and Government grants.
Despite agreeing a 1.94 percent increase in Council Tax for 2014/15, ESFRS claims that a cut in Government grants has left a large funding gap.
Speaking ahead of this week’s meeting, Fire Authority chairman Phil Howson said: “We would like to thank those organisations and individuals who responded to our consultation.
“This is a difficult time and it is important that the Fire Authority is equipped with as much evidence as possible to have an informed debate before making a decision.”
The Fire Authority will meet in public at 10.30am on June 5 at East Sussex Fire and Rescue Service headquarters at 20 Upperton Road in Eastbourne.
A paper will be presented to Fire Authority members for consideration and a vote will take place.
There is limited space available in the meeting and anyone wishing to attend should email email@example.com as soon as possible.
Further information about the process can be found in a ESFRS leaflet at www.esfrs.org/document/pdf/fa/faMeetings/fire_authority_meeting_procedure.pdf