“Significant changes” are to be made to proposals to restructure East Sussex Fire Service which caused uproar in Uckfield and around the county.
Members of the community, and firefighters, were concerned about proposals which would have seen the removal of one of the two fire engines at Uckfield, and a reduction in the number of full-time firefighters serving the town and surrounding villages.
Weekend and night-time cover would have been in the hands of on-call firefighters.
County councillor Roy Galley, who chairs the East Sussex Fire Authority, announced the rethink at a full meeting of the county council on Tuesday.
He said that since the conclusion of a formal consultation “detailed, meaningful, and constructive, discussions” had taken place between senior officers and stakeholders, including the Fire Brigades Union.
And, he said, whilst a full analysis had to be completed, the discussions had taken into account the responses to the consultation.
“As a result an amended set of proposals is currently being drafted to be discussed initially at a briefing session for fire authority members on July 13.”
Cllr Galley said there would be a revised plan in September which would make “significant changes” to the original proposals.
He added: “At this stage nobody is at liberty to discuss any of the details because they have not been discussed by the fire authority.”
Phil Scott, a county councillor and fire authority member, asked whether there was any understanding of the level of response to the consultation, “not just the usual suspects” but also those who were harder to reach. He said a number of the proposals were “clearly not acceptable to our communities”.
He asked whether there would be a further consultation when the new proposals were put forward in September.
Cllr Galley said he didn’t have the latest figures but there was a “very extensive” response to the consultation, well over 700 responses. There would be further communication to make people fully aware of the detailed level of responses.
He said there wouldn’t be further consultation. “The whole point of consultation is to take views on initial proposals. They have been taken fully into account and significant changes are likely to be made.
“Legally we need to have an Integrated Risk Management Plan in place next year and onwards.
“We will be coming forward with new proposals and I look forward to comments from colleagues on that at the appropriate time.”
More information about reaction to the initial Integrated Risk Management Plan proposals can be found in these Uckfield News stories: