Councillors ask for assurances over Manea

FENLAND councillors have asked for assurances over the future of Manea Fire station and the cuts impact on other areas following a meeting between the council’s Overview and Scrutiny Panel and the county’s Chief Fire Officer, Graham Stagg.

Following the meeting, panel chairman Pop Jolley said it was a “very positive and constructive meeting” at which Mr Stagg answered questions about the plans.

“These focused on our main concerns - the potential closure of Manea Fire Station; the potential increase in attendance times and reduced cover due to fewer appliances; the capability of the Fire and Rescue Service to continue to deal effectively with water-related incidents; and the need to ensure that fire appliances were suitably equipped to handle Fenland’s rural road network,” said Mr Jolley in a statement.

He added: “We welcome the assurance given by Mr Stagg that no decision about the possible closure of Manea Fire Station will be taken at least until May 2012.”

As a result of the meeting, the panel has a number of recommendations which it wants taken into account during the Fire and Rescue service’s discussions over the coming months.

These include:

*  To endeavour to prevent the reduction in frontline fire and rescue services in Fenland and the surrounding area through the effective review of all other organisational commitments.

* To keep Manea Fire Station open to prevent future loss of life due to increased response times to incidents.

* To review the removal of all second appliances to prevent future loss of life due to increased response times to incidents.

* To review the removal of the Thorney appliance due to high level of attendances at road traffic accidents on the A47 and the increased response time from appliances coming from Peterborough or Wisbech to serious incidents.

* To review the equipment and training utilised in Fenland fire stations to incorporate specialist apparatus and knowledge to suit the Fenland environment, especially when responding to water-related incidents.

* To review staffing schedules to ensure fire stations are staffed in line with high demand for fire and rescue services.

* To explore all opportunities for shared services to generate efficiency savings to prevent reductions in frontline services.

“We understand the severe financial pressures that all public services are under in these difficult economic times. However, we view the service provided by Manea Fire Station as vital not only for the people of Manea but for Fenland as a whole.

“We and everyone in Fenland need to continue to fight hard to retain the station at Manea.

“Its closure would send out the message that a life in Manea is worth less than a life in Chatteris or March. That is not acceptable

“Local people can also do their bit to help ensure the station is sustainable in the future by applying to become firefighters themselves,” said Mr Jolley.