This week the campaign to save The Ridge Fire Station and oppose the further downgrade of the local Fire Service was taken to Westminster by Labour’s Parliamentary Candidate for Hastings and Rye, Helena Dollimore. Joining her were local firefighter and Fire Brigade Union representative Leo Cacciatore and Councillor Phil Scott, who sits on the East Sussex Fire Authority.
The delegation from Hastings and Rye met with Sarah Jones MP, the Labour Shadow Minister for the Fire Service to update her on the campaign and the effect of the erosion of the local Fire and Rescue Service on response times.
The meeting in Parliament came after 2500 residents signed a petition and many joined public meetings organised by Hastings and Rye Labour Candidate Helena Dollimore opposing recent proposals to remove night time cover at the Ridge Fire Station in Hastings, which provides a vital service to Hastings residents and those who live in surrounding villages. The proposals follow the downgrade of Rye Fire Station which lost one of two fire engines last year.
Following the overwhelming public support for the campaign, the Tory-run East Sussex Fire Authority announced the proposals are undergoing a rethink. It remains to be seen whether the plans will return at June’s meeting of the East Sussex Fire Authority.
Helena Dollimore, Labour Parliamentary Candidate for Hastings and Rye, who organised the campaign said: “This meeting gave us the chance for the voice of our local firefighters and our local community to be heard in Westminster. It is deeply worrying that our fire service is being eroded at the very time we need it more than ever with our climate crisis bringing more extreme weather events like storms, flooding and wildfires. I would like to thank the public for supporting our campaign and forcing the East Sussex Fire Authority to rethink these proposals. But we must keep the pressure to stop the further downgrade of our local Fire Service.”
Sarah Jones, Labour’s Shadow Minister for Policing and the Fire Service said:
“Conservative Governments have shamefully cut the fire service for over a decade, with more than 11,000 roles lost since 2010. Firefighters in Hastings and Rye have a brilliant Labour candidate fighting for them. Helena Dollimore has already managed to persuade Conservative-run East Sussex Fire Authority to pause their plans to cut vital night time cover.
Whether it’s responding to flooding or severe weather, preventing fires through inspection and education, firefighters run into danger when most people would run away. The Government should be doing everything they can to protect our vital fire service in Hastings and across the country. Nothing less will do.”
Leo Cacciatore. Local firefighter and Fire Brigade Union representative said:
“Residents are rightly concerned as the continuous cuts to our frontline service,
including the cuts to numbers of firefighters and downgrading of fire stations has
the potential to put lives at risk. This gives us a less resilient service, especially at
time when we are seeing increased call numbers linked to pressures on the NHS
and the climate emergency. We call for investment to secure a more sustainable
Fire and Rescue Service. We have seen far too many cuts over the last decade
and call for change.”