Fire unions warning over plans to cut cover in Norwich

Firefighters from across Norfolk held a demonstration in Norwich to get council chiefs to rethink plans to cut cover in the county.

Firefighters from across Norfolk held a demonstration in Norwich today to get council chiefs to rethink plans to cut cover in the county.

More than 100 members of the Fire Brigade's Union gathered in Hay Hill in the city for the Saturday protest against plans to cut �1.5m from the service as part of its new draft safety plan aimed at modernising the service.

The changes, which are set to be approved by the county council on October 11, would also see 24 jobs cut in Norwich as the number of fire crews at the proposed new Carrow Station is reduced from five to four.

And the FBU believes worse is to follow following the government's comprehensive spending review which could see further cuts in Norfolk of between �3m and �5m.

Stefan Rider, branch representative of the Norwich FBU, said it was vital the public understood the scale of the changes being planned, and urged county councillors to think again.

'We are here to let the public know that there are savings being made in the fire service which we feel are going to put their lives at an added risk,' Mr Rider said. 'Across the county there are changes to the types of fire appliances at some of the stations and changes to the way that cover is going to be provided in King's Lynn and Great Yarmouth.

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'And there is going to be a reduction in fire cover in Norwich,' Mr Rider added. 'There is a risk that it is going to take longer to get the right resources to deal safely with an incident and that effectively means people are going to be at more risk, or the firefighters who arrives initially are going to have to put themselves at more risk.'

Norwich North MP Chloe Smith has already raised concerns about the fire cuts in the city, and fellow city MP Simon Wright was also at the meeting to hear the firefighters' concerns.

'I do have concerns,' Mr Wright said. 'It's difficult to understand how the quality of the service and the level of protection offered to people in the Norwich can be maintained when there are significant cuts coming. I think the councillors need to put this on hold for further scrutiny before making a final decision.

Pete Greeves, Norfolk FBU brigade chairman, said a recent Yougov poll showed that more than 85pc of people did not want to see cuts in the service.

'When the county council did its own consultation, if they read the responses it showed that it showed that 80pc of people did not want cuts to the fire service, yet they have totally ignored that,' Mr Greeves said.