Thurrock councillor condemns plans for devastating cuts to local fire service

ESSEX fire service has produced plans that could see the numbers of firefighters and fire engines halved.

Plans could see Essex Fire Service axing a fire engine from Grays, Orsett and Corringham fire stations, a cut from six fire engines to just three. cuts that local councillor, Cathy Kent believes which would result in Thurrock residents being placed at increased risk.

Speaking after Essex Fire Service published their proposals Cllr Kent said: “The authority is proposing three options to save money. Each option cuts fire cover in Thurrock, each option puts Thurrock people at risk, and each option is simply unacceptable.”

She added: “The authority is trying to put a PR gloss on these dangerous cuts, claiming it is a way of modernising the fire service across the county, but when it comes down to it, it is simply more government cuts, fewer fire engines and fewer firefighters.

“The public are not stupid. They know reducing the number of fire engines and firefighters is simply a savings exercise it’s not modernisation.

“In Thurrock, one of the three proposed options takes an engine away from Orsett and an engine away from the retained station in Corringham.

The other options go further, they cut fire engines and staffing at Orsett and Corringham; and does exactly the same at the Grays fire station as well.

“People might be interested to know that none of the options suggests making cuts on Chelmsford.”

Cllr Kent said: “The whole thing doesn’t make sense. Thurrock has more Control of Major Accident Hazards – or COMAH sites – than the whole of Hertfordshire!

“And this week the Prime Minister has announced that responsibility for the fire service may be taken away from long established fire authorities and instead handed over to Police and Crime Commissioners – look what’s happened with that in Thurrock already: three police stations reduced to one and nearly 40 PSCOs reduced to six.

“It is clear that these cuts are not only dangerous, but they are unnecessary. Sensible back office savings have been put forward that could be used protect the front line, savings that should be used to avoid this devastating reduction to the vital front line services."

“Thurrock is growing with more jobs, more homes and more people these proposals for fewer firefighters and fewer fire engines can, quite simply, not be allowed to happen. We must fight it all the way.”

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