PLANNED cuts to the fire service across the county border from Midhurst threaten to leave the town and the surrounding area vulnerable, it is feared.
Members of Midhurst Town Council have now voiced their concerns in answer to the public consultation on proposals to reduce fire service cover in Hampshire.
Hampshire Fire Service is having to save some £8m-£9m and among the proposals at fire stations along the border with West Sussex are plans to axe one of Petersfield’s two fire engines, cut Bordon’s appliance to an ‘intermediate vehicle’ and remove Grayshott and Liphook’s fire engine, replacing them with a first response vehicles
The plans include reducing the number of firefighters at the stations by a total of 16..
Vice chairman of the town council John Quilter said: “We have already raised our concerns about the fire service rationalisation and we were told there was nothing to worry about, that West Sussex Fire Service was fully aware of the situation and were in discussion with Hampshire.
“Lo and behold now when you take the reduction of coverage at Petworth and Midhurst along with reductions from the fire stations over the border in Hampshire, I think that leaves us very exposed and I am very concerned.”
Although fire safety in homes had improved significantly and the number of incidents had dropped, Mr Quilter said he felt the Midhurst area would still be very vulnerable.
“I don’t think people have thought enough about major unforeseen incidents, agricultural fires and accidents which we have across this widespread rural area.”
Mr Quilter pointed out the area covering Petworth and Midhurst across to Petersfield and Bordon included a significant amount of agricultural land “which is at risk and we should make our concerns known.”
Council chairman John Etherington stressed that fire stations across the borders currently covered for each other: “If they are losing staff and appliances, it is very worrying.”
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