Cambridgeshire

Cambridgeshire firefighters' £6m cuts is 'worst option'

Firefighters in Cambridgeshire are preparing for a "worst case scenario" where extra cuts of almost £2m will be demanded above £4.2m already planned.

The Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Fire Authority has approved a budget cuts contingency plan.

If cuts are to be higher than £5.5m, Huntingdon fire station will be downgraded to day crew status and its rescue vehicle removed.

Second fire engines will be removed from Soham, Ely, St Ives and Ramsey.

Further cuts will mean decisions will have to be made on the closure of Manea, Thorney, Gamlingay and either Burwell or Swaffham fire stations.

Chris Strickland, deputy chief fire officer, said: "It is important that members of the public realise that the recommendations which were approved form part of our 'worst case scenario' plan of action.

"They will only be implemented if the overall budget cuts exceed the £4.2m we have already planned for."

Duty to plan

If the service comes under further pressure, staff numbers and services will be reassessed which would take savings over the £6m mark.

This would prevent the need for deeper cuts to front-line services. They also agreed not to identify any further savings until the final amount of cuts had been identified.

Mr Strickland said: "While we are confident that the savings will be around the £4.2m mark, it could be between £4.2m and £6m, and there is nothing to stop the cuts going above this figure.

"We have a duty to plan for this and to keep the residents of Cambridgeshire informed of what is happening.

"Cuts this severe would have to result in fewer fire engines and a reduction in service to the public."

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