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West Sussex fire £2.5m cuts approved
Fire service cuts of about £2.5m have been approved by town hall bosses.
West Sussex Fire and Rescue Service claims it must make the savings to meet Government cuts to its budget.
After a ten-week consultation, the plans, which will not see any fire stations closed or reduction in vehicles, have been backed by Christine Field, the West Sussex County Council cabinet member for public protection.
But the move will see the loss of some firefighters. Councillor Field said the majority of people who responded to the proposals had supported them.
She said: “I think people understood these were sensible proposals given the tough economic pressures on public services.
“The reductions in grant funding mean budget cuts are inevitable, and while it’s never easy to reduce staff, the evidence put forward by the Fire and Rescue Service has demonstrated quite clearly that essential services would continue and that risks to firefighters and the public would not increase.”
One of the plans is to create a joint call centre with East Sussex Fire and Rescue service.
All 40 of the force’s vehicles will remain, but more than 40 positions will be scrapped.
The majority of these will be full-time firefighter roles – from 379 to 348 – with 12 being backroom staff, although the number of retained officers will be kept the same.
The changes will see new crewing systems for teams at Worthing and Crawley stations, while the team at Horley, near Gatwick, will be merged with colleagues at Horsham.
Francis Bishop, the West Sussex branch secretary of the FBU, previoulsy said: "The driver is savings, no-one is saying they're improving the service.
"Effective emergency response is expensive, so what worries us is that emergency response will suffer."
A spokesman for West Sussex Fire and Rescue said: “Consultation with staff and unions is ongoing but the service believes the savings can be found without the need for compulsory redundancies.”
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