There are number of questions I am seeking answers to regarding the current consultation on the proposed Risk Management Plan for East Sussex Fire and Rescue Service.
Along with other MPs in East Sussex, I’ve met with the East Sussex Fire and Rescue Authority to listen and understand the rationale for their proposed plan and I have also had a meeting with Bexhill firefighters and members of the Fire Brigades Union to listen to their concerns about the local impact of the proposals. I am aware of a leaflet which is being delivered to many homes in Bexhill which is titled “Save Bexhill Fire Station”. I do want to assure residents that the RMP proposals do not include a recommendation to close the fire station in Bexhill but there are measures which may have an impact on response times and the number of fire engines located at the station.
To provide a little background to the consultation, every Fire and Rescue Service across England is required to have an up to date Risk Management Plan (RMP) to ensure that all the fire service resources are located in the best place for the most effective response to local fire and rescue incidents. Further information about the review is on the ESRFS website at this link https://www.esfrs.org/safer-future/. Please note that if you would like to formally reply to the consultation, the closing date is Friday 19 June.
Having listened to the rationale behind the RMP proposals from the Fire Authority and the concerns of our local firefighters and their union, I do have some concerns about the proposals which will impact the towns of Bexhill, Battle and Heathfield and the surrounding villages in my constituency. I am also concerned about the timing of the consultation. Whilst I appreciate that the risk management plan must be up to date, the current COVID-19 situation also means that there may be many people who are unaware of the consultation and will not have an opportunity to submit their views. In addition, our local firefighters have been fully involved in the Sussex Local Resilience Forum’s coordinated response to COVID-19. The roles that have taken on during this unprecedented time may well lead to longer-term changes in the role of the fire and rescue service. It would seem sensible to pause the RMP consultation process to ensure that any such changes are incorporated into the RMP.
For the above reasons, I will be responding to the consultation to raise a number of concerns about the timing of the consultation, the data it has been based on and the proposals which could adversely affect my constituents. I would recommend that constituents do likewise if concerned about the consultation, by 19 June.