Following the meeting of Crowborough Town Council on 26th May, the Town Clerk has written to the Chairman of the Fire Authority and the Chief Fire Officer about the Council’s concerns.
All Fire and Rescue Services are required to develop an Integrated Risk Management Plan, which identifies and assesses foreseeable fire and rescue related risks.
At their recent virtual meeting, Town Councillors were in agreement about their unhappiness about the proposed changes to staff contracts and the removal of the second fire engine at Crowborough Fire Station.
Cllr Colin Stocks thought it was a “terrible report” with no clear indication of the impact of the proposals on the individual fire station areas. He drew the Council’s attention to page 60, which highlights significant uncertainty about funding beyond 2020/21 which “makes it difficult to make firm plans for the future”. In conclusion he said the decision to consult during the pandemic is so shameful it has made it into the latest edition of Private Eye.
Cllr Richard Jury expressed concerned about Crowborough having to rely on Tunbridge Wells for back-up:
Whilst any cuts to the fire service in my opinion are unwelcome, I believe the most dangerous element this proposal is the loss of the second engine, not just at Crowborough but also at Uckfield, depriving them of the mutual support.
Councillors felt inadequate account has been taken of the extra housing that Crowborough and Uckfield will have to take over the coming years.
The proposed staffing arrangement would be more dependent on retained fire fighters for evening and weekend emergencies, yet the fire service admit to having trouble in recruiting on-call firefighters.
Councillors also raised concern that the plan does not take into account fires on the Ashdown Forest nor the number of serious collisions that occur on the A26. Cllr Kay Moss said that 38% of road traffic fatalities occurred in Wealden and the she mentioned the report accepts the “quality of road infrastructure can affect our attendance times”.
You can download a copy of the Town Council’s response here: www.crowboroughtowncouncil.gov.uk.