There was disgraceful and cowardly deception by Conservative councillors at the West Sussex County Council meeting on February 13.
Michael Brown, the cabinet member for finance, claimed there would be no frontline service cuts, yet common sense says you cannot get more frontline than cutting firefighters and five fire engines.
The county council’s own research showed these cuts will increase response times, cost more lives and increase property damage. Only a fool, or someone putting their politics ahead of public safety, would dare to suggest that is an ‘improvement’.
Then we had cabinet member for residents’ services David Barling’s phoney offer to return the £1.6 million to the fire service.
This was cowardly use of the chief fire officer as a ‘human shield’. Knowing the cabinet wants the cuts, he would have been a fool to say yes.
Nowadays, you don’t get, or keep, a top job with the county council unless you are prepared to cut services, whatever the cost.
The only useful thing that Mr Barling said was: “It is often about what they don’t tell you that you need to focus on.”
There are a great many things he did not tell us, such as:
West Sussex residents have to wait, on average, 30 per cent longer than East Sussex residents for help to arrive from the fire and rescue service;
West Sussex has the worst fire death rate in the south-east;
Cutting response times at Littlehampton comes at the cost of increasing response times at Crawley, Horsham, Midhurst, Petworth and Storrington, with knock-on delays to other areas.
Then there is council leader Louise Goldsmith, who claims that 300 inquests is an ‘achievement’.
With that distorted logic, you can perhaps see why the county council is not bothered by the extra deaths the fire cuts will cause.
For their own safety, readers should sign the ‘Stop fire engine and firefighter cuts in West Sussex’ petition, on the West Sussex Epetitions website.
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