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Fire union anger grows over Norfolk service changes

PUBLISHED: 14:45 08 April 2010 | UPDATED: 09:30 02 July 2010

Firefighters protest at proposed cuts outside County Hall

Firefighters protest at proposed cuts outside County Hall

Sarah Hall

Firefighters who fear a planned shake-up of Norfolk Fire and Rescue Service will put people's lives at risk have called on the county's would be MPs to oppose the changes.

Firefighters who fear a planned shake-up of Norfolk Fire and Rescue Service will put people's lives at risk have called on the county's would be MPs to oppose the changes.

A new Safety Plan for 2011/14 has been drawn up by fire chiefs, who say it will allow more efficient use of resources and save £1.5m.

They say safety will remain paramount, but the number of crews in Norwich will be cut from five to four when Bethel Street station is replaced by the new Carrow Station in Trowse in 2011 and a full time crew will be shifted from Great Yarmouth to Gorleston to replace the retained cover.

Forty-two firefighter posts would be lost across the county, including 24 in Norwich, 14 in Gorleston and 12 in six retained stations - Cromer, Dereham, Diss, Fakenham, Sandringham and Wymondham. A new second station could be built in King's Lynn.

But members of Norfolk Fire Brigades Union, are writing to all candidates of leading political parties in the county, asking them to pledge to oppose the proposals.

Jamie Wyatt, Norfolk FBU secretary, said: “These cuts will put every citizen in Norfolk at greater risk than at present.

“So any politician who cares about the safety of the people of Norfolk will give us the pledge we are asking for.”

Members of Norfolk County Council's cabinet agreed this week to put the recommendations out for public consultation.

Mike McCarthy, acting chief of Norfolk Fire and Rescue Service, said: “It is right that this particular plan should be seen in the context of tough financial pressures and it's important that we reassess our services regularly to ensure we are using our funding in the best possible way and providing excellent value for money.

“However, the proposals also include options for substantial investment including a new fire and rescue station serving King's Lynn, the replacement of six under-utilised fire appliances by more versatile rural fire fighting vehicles and upgrading fire cover in Gorleston.

“The consultation period will run from May 6 until August 6, during which time everyone in Norfolk will have the opportunity to give their views. Norfolk Fire and Rescue Service would welcome comments from party political candidates as part of this process.”

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