Worst Case Scenario Fire Plan Agreed by Authority

Chris Strickland, deputy chief fire officer said: “It is important that members of the public realise that the recommendations which were approved form part of our ‘worst case scenario’ plan of action and will only be implemented if the overall budget cuts exceed the �4.2 million we have already planned for.”

A PLAN of action that could see the removal of the second fire engines at Ely, Soham and Swaffham and the closure of Burwell Fire Station has been agreed in part by Cambridgeshire Fire Authority.

Phase One of a “worst case scenario” plan, which will see the downgrade of Huntingdon Fire Station to day crew status and the removal of the rescue vehicle was approved at the meeting on Thursday afternoon. The authority says the plan will allow Cambridgeshire Fire and Rescue Service to implement its cost-saving measures quickly if the Government’s budget cuts exceed �4.2 million.

A further meeting will be held in May at which further key decisions will be proposed to the fire authority, including the removal of the second fire engines at Soham, Ely, St Ives and Ramsey. In addition, there will be decisions made on the closure of Manea, Thorney, Gamlingay and either Burwell or Swaffham fire stations.

Chris Strickland, deputy chief fire officer said: “It is important that members of the public realise that the recommendations which were approved form part of our ‘worst case scenario’ plan of action and will only be implemented if the overall budget cuts exceed the �4.2 million we have already planned for.”

Fire authority members agreed that if the cuts exceeded �5.5 million, then the service would need to look at making further cuts to its support services and officer provision, which would take the savings over the �6 million mark. This would prevent the need for deeper cuts to frontline services. They also agreed not to identify any further savings until the final amount of cuts had been identified.

The Government’s spending settlement, which was due to be published in November 2011, has been delayed by a year and is now due for December 1 this year. This means that all fire and rescue services in England and Wales are unclear about exactly what cuts they will have to make and are being forced to make predictions.

Most Read

Chris Strickland added: “We anticipate that we will have to make �4.2 million worth of budget cuts between April 2011 and April 2015.

“We have planned for these and are confident that we will be able to deliver them without impacting on the delivery of our frontline service to the public.

“However, like other fire and rescue services, this sum is a prediction, as we will not know until December what the Government spending settlement will be.

“While we are confident that the savings will be around the �4.2 million mark, it could be between �4.2m and �6m, and there is nothing to stop the cuts going above this figure. We have a duty to plan for this and to keep the residents of Cambridgeshire informed of what is happening. We can’t bury our heads in the sand; cuts this severe would have to result in fewer fire engines and a reduction in service to the public. This isn’t something we want to do, but we do have a duty to plan for this, so we can take action if we need to.

“It’s also important to stress that even if the figure is �4.2 million, making these cuts will not be easy and will severely impact on how well we are able to support our frontline service. With reduced numbers of support staff we will only be able to maintain the bare minimum in terms of support for the frontline and won’t be able to continue delivering groundbreaking and innovative work as we have in the past.”

Become a Supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Become a Supporter