Thousands of people across Uckfield and East Sussex have signed a petition calling on the fire authority to reject proposed cuts to the service.
Uckfield Town Council will discuss the proposals tonight (1st June) at the General Purposes committee and look at the proposed response by Cllr Ben Cox. His proposal is reproduced here:
Suggested response by Councillor B. Cox
Councillor Ben Cox had originally wished to take a motion to Full Council about this subject but due to the timescales, has put forward a suggested response for consideration by members at General Purposes Committee:
“Uckfield has two fire engines. A crew run one engine during the daytime. This is managed by full-time firefighters. They are required to live in the town and are on call during the nights of their working days. This is standard practice and it guarantees sufficient personnel for at least one fire engine in the town 24/7. We also have a second fire engine, this is crewed by on-call firefighters during the day, if sufficient personnel are available. Both are crewed at night by a hybrid of both full-time and on- call firefighters and this common practice too.
East Sussex and West Sussex Fire and Rescue have seen some very challenging issues over the years. Eastbourne Pier – 31 July 2014, Eastbourne Claremont Hotel – 22 November 2019, 2015 Shoreham Air Show crash and a number of fires on the Ashdown forest including one in May 2020.
All the issues outlined have put the Fire and Rescue service to maximum capacity and this is with nearby West Sussex already having cuts since 2006. The proposals include major cuts to the number of fire engines, staffing levels, and night time fire cover.
The proposals include:
• Cutting 10 fire engines across the county from Battle, Bexhill, Crowborough, Lewes, Newhaven, Rye, Uckfield, Seaford, Heathfield and Wadhurst stations;
• Cutting dedicated crews for high-reaching aerial fire appliance;
• Cutting wholetime staffing levels across the county, particularly at stations in Lewes, Newhaven, Uckfield, Crowborough, Battle and Bexhill stations;
• Reducing night time fire cover at The Ridge fire station;
Since 2011, fire and rescue services in the UK have had 11,500 firefighters cut from their staff, and since 2013 have seen real-terms spending on their service slashed by 38%. Suggested response: “To stand by and allow the cuts to take place without question will be a dereliction of duty by the councillors to put the safety of the community first. This council believes that the proposed cuts will put the town and its villages at risk and in danger. The council wholeheartedly disagrees with the cuts and will push back at East Sussex County Council on the proposal. And to our best endeavours fight to keep the high standards and first rate fire service that the people of Uckfield deserve.”
An online consultation survey can be found at www.esfrs.org/saferfuture .
The survey will be open from 24 April 2020 until 19 June 2020. The findings of the consultation will be considered at a Fire Authority meeting in September 2020.