Meeting called to address 
concerns over fire service cuts

Louth to host it's first Triathlon event.
Louth to host it's first Triathlon event.

Concerned councillors have called a public meeting to discuss their worries about proposed cuts to the fire service.

A public consultation is under way regarding £1.6million of cuts West Sussex Fire and Rescue Service has been told to find from its annual budget.

The proposed cuts include the loss of 10 retained firefighters and one engine from Crawley.

Cllr Michael Jones (Lab, Southgate and Crawley Central), one of the meeting organisers, questioned the safety of the proposals and the timing of the consultation, which clashed with the summer holidays.

Cllr Jones said: “My bottom line is there must be no threat to public safety. To my mind, the proposals risk cutting beyond acceptable safety margins. In particular, the north of the county looks like it may be worryingly exposed, with only all night cover guaranteed from Crawley and Horsham stations.”

Cllr Jones also pointed out that approved development in the town, such as Forge Wood, meant Crawley could not afford to cut its level of fire cover.

He said: “There have been a number of big fires in Crawley recently. We need a service that can always provide us that full capacity.

“Crawley is growing, as are other West Sussex towns. We see all the recent development agreed and we know that will need the same, not less, cover.”

He added: “The council have indicated they potentially want a further £2.4million out of next year’s fire and rescue budget.

“The time has come for us to stand up and be heard.”

A spokesman for the county council said a variety of methods had been used to share the proposals, including online questionnaires and the attendance of senior officers at public meetings.

She added: “An independent social research company facilitated a number of forums to capture the views of businesses, partners, staff and the public on each proposal and, to date, more than 800 people have given their views via our online questionnaire.

“ We do not believe we have been invited to this meeting but would be more than happy to attend to speak to people about their concerns.”

The meeting will be held at the Civic Hall today (Thursday August 21) at 7pm.