Controversial plans to cut fire cover in Norfolk were given the green light yesterday amid fresh fears that lives and historic buildings in the centre of Norwich could be put at risk.
Norfolk County Council approved the £1.5m cuts as part of a new safety plan aimed at boosting cover in rural areas and King’s Lynn.
As part of the changes the number of fire engines in Norwich would be cut from five to four after the opening of the new Carrow Station in Trowse, near Norwich, following the closure of Bethel Street, with 24 jobs lost.
Across the county a further 12 jobs will be lost at six retained fire stations, Cromer, Dereham, Diss, Fakenham, Sandringham, and Wymondham. But moves to scrap the retained crew at Gorleston have been put on hold for 12 months, though councillors were unable to give assurances that the proposals will not be revisited in the future.
The monitoring of rules governing a maximum 15 minute response time for second crews at some incidents was also scrapped.
Labour councillor Bert Bremner told county councillors that the plans were a “Tory gamble”, which would affect the safety of firefighters and the public, particularly in the Norwich area.
“At the big Zizzi’s fire last month in the centre of Norwich there were at least six fire fighting appliances and 40 fire-fighters,” Mr Bremner said. “Zizzi’s was right next to the beautiful Ethelbert Gate, one of Norwich’s treasured medieval buildings.
“The first crew to get to the fire was the second Norwich pump, the one Tory Norfolk will cut. What is to replace this second fire engine?
“The Tory cuts will mean only five fire-fighters are on duty at North Earlham so no speedy arrival of the ‘Aerial Ladder Platform’ and far greater damage and far greater risk of fire spreading. The Ethelbert Gate would have been at risk.”
Harry Humphrey, cabinet member for fire and rescue, said: “We have got reduced risk, and we have got action being taken with a new fire station at Carrow, which will result in Norwich being ringed by fire stations at Sprowston, Earlham and at Carrow.”
We watch with interest the FBU’s response to this major threat to the people of Norfolk…
More than 100 members of Norfolk branches of the FBU joined other regional branches and marched on Parliament today.
Over 2,000 firefighters rallied in Westminster Central Hall, London. Hundreds then protested outside Downing Street while others went into pParliament to lobby MPs.
FBU general secretary Matt Wrack told the rally, “We face a pay freeze and huge attacks on jobs and conditions as part of an ideological, political assault against public services.”
And addressing other trade unions he said, ” If it means striking together, then so be it, we are entering the fight of our lives. ”
In solidarity with FITWATCH please read, digest and act on.
Apparently the post below attempts to ‘pervert the course of justice’ and the Fitwatch blog was subsequently suspended on request of one Acting Detective Inspector Will Hodgeson from CO11 as part of Operation Malone.
Most people in this country are still under the illusion that it would take ‘the due process of law’ such as an order from a court to shut a blog down rather than a request by a lowly ‘Acting Detective Inspector’..but there you go, sign of the times.
By Sean Coughlan
BBC News education correspondent
There have been more than 50 arrests following the tuition fee protests
The lecturers’ union president has signed a statement refusing to condemn protesters who attacked a Conservative party building last week.
Alan Whitaker has joined calls to “rally behind all who were arrested for fighting to defend their education”.
A radical students’ group has also threatened to target Lib Dem offices and Downing Street next week.
But the UCU union’s official spokesman rejected last week’s violence as “totally unacceptable”.
Backing “acts of resistance”, the lecturers’ statement has been signed by 24 members of the University and College Union’s national executive.
The UCU spokesman said the statement supporting the arrested students had been signed in a personal capacity by lecturers and was not the union’s official policy.
But the scale of support among the union’s leadership for this latest statement suggests deep divisions in the response to the outbreak of violence, during a protest march against raising tuition fees.
There are also divisions among student protestors, with student activists set to reject the more moderate strategy of the NUS leadership.
The Education Activist Network has warned that the Liberal Democrat headquarters will be targeted in the next wave of protests, set for 24 November.
The protesters are calling for students and their supporters to stage a walk-out and then to demonstrate outside Liberal Democrat offices and then Downing Street.
Alan Whitaker, national president of the UCU, has joined about a third of the union’s national executive, in calling on university and college staff to “stand with those students who were arrested”.
“We will not side with those who condemn the violence against windows and property but will not condemn or even name the long-term violence of cuts that will scar the lives of hundreds of thousands by denying them access to the education of their choice,” says the statement.
“The victimisation of individuals for acts of resistance is something that our movement has a proud record of opposing,” says the statement.
There have been more than 50 arrests following the storming of the building.
And there was widespread criticism, including from Downing Street, of lecturers who had appeared to be sympathetic to the occupation of the Millbank building.
But the spokesman for the latest lecturers’ statement, Tom Hickey, says it is “pure hypocrisy” for lecturers to be expected to either condemn or condone the occupation last week.
He says demonstrators were provoked by the government’s decision to “privatise” higher education, without any mandate from voters.
Mr Hickey, who lectures at the University of Brighton, says he expects the lecturers’ union to back a campaign for the defence of those who were arrested during the demonstration.
Momentum is everything in politics and now we have it. Instead of a one-off isolated event like G20 we now have a series of actions week after week. Novembrer 24th walk out now encompasses occupying Lib Dem constituency offices and is to be followed by action against tax avoiding companies on december 4th.
The violent attacks on Tory HQ far from alienating public opinion has energised it. A quick trawl through the Sunday Papers reveals columnists like Suzanne Moore in the Mail on Sunday standing 4 square with the violent students and is replicated by opnion pieces elsewhere not only in the liberal media but in the right wing ones. Where commentators are not in support they are fearful. take Martin Ivens in the Sunday Times : ‘If a rash of violent disputes were to become a settled pattern the coalition government might look as if it were no longer in control, the agenda of early cuts too confrontational, it’s narrative of national salvation could be challenged.Public opinion is the prize. Who runs the country asked Ted Heath.Clearly not you replied the voters’.
Nick Clegg’s u-turn on student fees has alienated the middle classes into a temporary alliance with the proles.’What would happen now if nurses took to the streets against NHS cuts? Liberal opinion would be with them as well. The government could fall. It’s all to play for – but the door is open now – NOW is the time to push further. Forget next March – the next 4 weeks will be decisive. Go for it.