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Councillor slammed for resigning ahead of crunch fire cuts vote
Updated 7:50pm Thursday 5th June 2014 in News
A COUNCILLOR has been slammed over his decision to resign as vice chairman of East Sussex Fire Authority rather than vote against £7 million of cuts to the fire service.
Green councillor Sven Rufus, announced his resignation in a statement that was posted on the Brighton and Hove Green Party website saying the proposed cuts will lead to a "grim future" for the service.
But his decision to resign hours before the crucial vote instead of staying in place in time to cast his vote has been branded an empty gesture by some councillors who have been left fuming at his decision.
Labour councillor Emma Daniel, who branded the move as "rubbish" on Twitter, said the move was nothing but an "empty gesture".
She said: "Today he could have, at the end of the meeting, said he was resigning because he didn't agree, but to not cast your vote? To not turn up to vote, it's fundamental really. I like Sven personally but I can't believe he wouldn't turn up to vote, I just think people who voted for him would have expected more.
"I'm very grateful the Green's voted the same way as us and that Phelim [Mac Cafferty] stepped in, but when someone says I'm protesting against the cuts instead of voting against them, it's not good enough."
Conservative councillor Garry Peltzer Dunn, who voted against the cuts, also questioned coun Rufus's decision to resign.
He said: "I think it's very sad he felt it necessary to resign. He has a lot of experience and he's an honourable man and I was disappointed not only did he resign the vice chairmanship but also from the authority.
"I would have thought he could just as reasonably voted against the proposals as did his colleagues and I don't think he's gained anything from resigning."
Councillor Rufus could not be reached for a comment but in his statement he said: “It’s with a heavy heart that I announce my resignation from the Vice Chair and as a representative on the ESFA today. I felt it was the only way to highlight the grim future for our fire service, thanks to the austerity plans of all major Westminster parties. As bad as it might seem now, continued cuts to the fire service will put more people's live in danger over the coming years.
"I've been serving on the ESFA for 7 years, and sadly most that time has been spent preparing for this situation. Over the years, the Greens have consistently sought to increase funding for local services through council tax. Only recently did Labour realise how essential this was and join us in voting for increases. Unfortunately it’s too late, and the financial black hole we face is even more severe than it might otherwise have been.
"I have huge respect for the firefighters working to keep us safe in the County and City - they do an extraordinary job in protecting us. However it is extraordinary to see some politicians joining their campaign so vociferously, when they belong to a party committed to imposing exactly the same level of cuts upon public services as the current government. Labour has promised to follow the same spending plans and cuts as the Coalition until 2020 - yet they lack the courage of their convictions in recognising the inevitable consequences of those cuts at a local level. It's an extraordinary display of bare-faced hypocrisy.
"It saddens me greatly that the Coalition’s austerity programme has pitted two parts of the same organisation, with common goals and values, against each other. Firefighters are understandably concerned for their own and the public's safety, and have proposed additional savings to offset the cuts. Not all of these are possible, although I believe there is still more that could be done.
"I fear that the damage being done to the ESFRS by the coalition cuts will only continue to get worse, no matter which party or parties form the next national government in 2015. It will soon become impossible to provide the service the public expect and deserve, as Labour and Tories heap more and more cuts upon the service. Through no fault of the firefighters or officers in the ESFRS, the service will become unsustainable”.
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