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Consultation begins on fire station plans

A 10-WEEK consultation period has been launched over controversial plans to cut the fire service in Battle.

East Sussex Fire & Rescue Service is looking to shed between 50 and 80 jobs across the county from its current operational staff as part of a bid to save £7 million.

Battle Fire Station currently has a full time crew providing 24/7 cover - but this is now under threat.

East Sussex Fire Authority has drafted two proposals for Battle Fire Station.

One is to downgrade the station to retained status, which will result in job losses.

The other option is to keep the full time status with extra staff at Battle, but at the expense of The Ridge Fire Station in Hastings, which would lose an appliance.

The plans have been roundly criticised by local politicians.

Cllr Kathryn Field, who represents Battle and Crowhurst at East Sussex County Council and Battle Town at Rother District Council, said: “What this ‘plan’ fails to recognise is that Hastings and Battle fire stations provide mutual support both for the urban areas and for the very scattered rural communities.

“Since attending road traffic crashes became a statutory duty of the fire brigade these stations are essential for the, sadly many, victims of RTCs on the A21. There comes a point when essential services can no longer be cut.”

This was echoed by Battle Town Council. Carol Harris, town clerk, said: “The council are very supportive of retaining the fire service in Battle and are conscious that they are needed and required.”

Fire Authority chairman Phil Howson said: “The usual reaction when considering emergency services is to be against change but there are very good reasons for us looking at how we work.

“The community needs have changed. We have significantly fewer call outs now than in previous years. This is in part due to the success of our work in preventing fires and other emergencies.

“We are also facing cuts in our budgets. Last July we put this at a figure of £7.1 million over the next five years. These two factors together make it the right time to look at how we deliver services in East Sussex to make sure that the right options are pursued.”

The full public consultation can be found at www.esfrs.org/changingtheservice/

 

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