West Norfolk MP warns of ‘long campaign’ to protect fire services

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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A “long campaign” may be needed to help preserve Norfolk’s fire services, North West Norfolk MP Henry Bellingham has warned.

Last week, Norfolk County Council set out the potential implications for services if the brigade had to endure a cut of up to 25 per cent in its funding.

In the worst case scenario, it suggested that up to 11 fire stations across the county, including Heacham, Massingham, Terrington and West Walton in West Norfolk, may have to close.

The report also warned that crews may also be lost from several other stations, including Lynn North and Sandringham if the most severe cuts are required.

But Mr Bellingham said it would be a mistake to close any stations which are manned solely by retained firefighters, whom he described as “real unsung heroes”.

Speaking as MPs returned to Westminster yesterday following the summer recess, he said: “They are a very precious part of the fire service. The whole idea of having a retained service is that they do it in their village.

“If they’re looking for savings, they’re going to have to find them elsewhere.”

Asked how stations could be protected, he said: “It’s a question of lobbying the fire minister and it could be the start of a long campaign.”

Members of Norfolk County Council’s communities committee, which oversees the fire service, are due to meet in Norwich tomorrow, when the findings of a working group set up to review the fire service’s future will be on the agenda.

The report sets out the potential implications of eight, 10, 12.5 and 25 per cent reductions in funding.

Firm recommendations on how the service should be restructured are not expected for several more weeks.