Councils could join forces to save Heacham fire station from the axe, MP suggests

Election Count at Lynnsport King's Lynn'Henry Bellingham ANL-150805-111717009

Election Count at Lynnsport King's Lynn'Henry Bellingham ANL-150805-111717009

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Parish and borough council officials should look at joining forces to help keep Heacham’s fire station open, the village’s MP has suggested.

A public consultation is now underway on Norfolk County Council plans to cut more than £110 million from its budgets, including proposals to shut the stations in Heacham and Outwell.

But community leaders and union officials have pledged to fight to secure the station’s future.

And North West Norfolk MP Henry Bellingham has now offered his full support to the campaign.

He said he would “lead the charge” to keep the Heacham station open and urged fire service chiefs to look at the issue primarily from a safety, rather than financial perspective.

He said: “My bottom line is that if there’s any real possibility of lives being endangered, even at the margins, then it’s a no-go.”

Service bosses have argued that only four of Norfolk’s existing fire stations handle fewer calls than Heacham, while the close proximity of the Hunstanton station would reduce the impact if a closure proved to be necessary.

But opponents argue that the scale of potential new development in the area over the coming years will only increase the burden on the fire service.

Like all county council-controlled services, the fire service was asked to draw up plans for how it could operate with up to 25 per cent less money available.

And the county’s new chief fire officer, Roy Harold, said a rise of around 50 pence a week would maintain the service in its current form when he addressed parish councillors in Heacham in September.

The current consultation is seeking views on whether a 1.95 per cent rise in the county’s portion of the council tax, which the authority says would raise around £6 million, should be imposed.

But, even if such an increase is implemented, there will be huge demand from the fire service and many other county departments for any additional funding that becomes available.

And Mr Bellingham believes a local solution could be pursued in Heacham’s case, involving the West Norfolk Council and the village’s parish authority.

He said: “This could be a really good example of the borough council and parish councils coming together. It’s a service we all value but one we may to pay a bit more for.”

n What do you think? Would you pay more for your fire service? Email letters@lynnnews.co.uk with your thoughts.