Conservative MP for Hove & Portslade, Mike Weatherley, and Brighton & Hove City Council Group Leader, Geoffrey Theobald, have written a joint letter to the Fire Services Minister, Brandon Lewis MP, urging him to intervene to enable the merger of the East and West Sussex Fire Services.
At its meeting this week, the East Sussex Fire Authority is being asked to agree savings proposals which include cuts to frontline fire services in Brighton & Hove, including the loss of one of the city’s five fire engines and significant reductions in staffing. West Sussex Fire Service is also planning to cut around 40 fire fighters’ jobs.
In their letter to Brandon Lewis, Geoffrey and Mike argue that these frontline cuts would not be necessary if the two fire services in Sussex were to merge, creating significant savings in management and back office costs. Plans for a merger were drawn up a couple of years ago and got to an advanced stage, only for West Sussex County Council, as Fire Authority, to pull out. Brighton & Hove City Council, East Sussex County Council and the East Sussex Fire Authority all support a merger.
Geoffrey said: “I have argued for many years that a merger makes both financial and logistical sense. I simply cannot understand why West Sussex continue to resist it. After all, the Police service operates successfully Sussex-wide and the Ambulance Service covers an even bigger area without any problems. For the sake of the residents and council taxpayers of both East and West Sussex, we would like the Minister to intervene to enable this sensible practical solution.”
Mike said: “The tough job of getting the nation’s books back into shape inevitably means funding cuts to our valuable public services. The only way that I can see the same level of service from our local fire service being maintained is through a merger with neighbouring West Sussex.”
Notes for editors:
For further information please contact Cllr. Geoffrey Theobald on 07753636203 or Mike Weatherley MP on 020 7219 7216
The East Sussex Fire Authority meeting takes place on Thursday 5th June at 10.30am at the East Sussex Fire & Rescue Service Headquarters in Eastbourne.
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