Cllr Sven Rufus, Vice Chair of the East Sussex Fire Authority (ESFA), today announced his resignation in protest at a budget cut of £7 million being imposed by the coalition on the Fire Service which Labour have said they will not reverse if they form the next national government.
Sven explained his decision:
“It’s with a heavy heart that I announce my resignation from the Vice Chair and as a representative on the ESFA today. I felt it was the only way to highlight the grim future for our fire service, thanks to the austerity plans of all major Westminster parties. As bad as it might seem now, continued cuts to the fire service will put more people’s live in danger over the coming years.”
The reduction in funding imposed on the ESFA by the government is so severe that the proposals being considered will result in a reduction in the number of fire engines in Brighton & Hove, and arguably increased risk for residents across East Sussex.
Cllr Rufus lamented “I’ve been serving on the ESFA for 7 years, and sadly most that time has been spent preparing for this situation. Over the years, the Greens have consistently sought to increase funding for local services through council tax. Only recently did Labour realise how essential this was and join us in voting for increases. Unfortunately it’s too late, and the financial black hole we face is even more severe than it might otherwise have been.”
The consultation on the proposed changes to the service has understandably been met with a strong reaction from the public and firefighters. The FBU has gathered a lot of support for its position in opposing the cuts.
Cllr Rufus added “I have huge respect for the firefighters working to keep us safe in the County and City – they do an extraordinary job in protecting us. However it is extraordinary to see some politicians joining their campaign so vociferously, when they belong to a party committed to imposing exactly the same level of cuts upon public services as the current government. Labour has promised to follow the same spending plans and cuts as the Coalition until 2020 – yet they lack the courage of their convictions in recognising the inevitable consequences of those cuts at a local level. It’s an extraordinary display of bare-faced hypocrisy.”
“It saddens me greatly that the Coalition’s austerity programme has pitted two parts of the same organisation, with common goals and values, against each other. Firefighters are understandably concerned for their own and the public’s safety, and have proposed additional savings to offset the cuts. Not all of these are possible, although I believe there is still more that could be done.
“I fear that the damage being done to the ESFRS by the coalition cuts will only continue to get worse, no matter which party or parties form the next national government in 2015. It will soon become impossible to provide the service the public expect and deserve, as Labour and Tories heap more and more cuts upon the service. Through no fault of the firefighters or officers in the ESFRS, the service will become unsustainable”.
For more information please contact the Brighton and Hove Green Party office on 01273 766 670.