MANY of you will have read the recent letters and articles talking about the cuts to our fire service in West Sussex and the issues that the changes will bring.
Many people have been campaigning for the cuts to be abandoned, and on Friday, October 17, at a meeting of the full county council, Crawley county councillor Michael Jones submitted a motion to abandon the changes and maintain a status quo.
A number of county councillors spoke for this motion, but only one Conservative councillor, Andy Petch, spoke in favour of abandoning the cuts.
Unfortunately, the motion was lost, and the cuts will continue.
This important decision was finally decided by 48 councillors, 28 of which voted against the motion. This out of a council of 71 councillors. As residents we elect our councillors to represent us and to put over our views.
It seems inconceivable that all of the Conservative councillors who attended this meeting hold the united view that these cuts are right and proper. Which leads me to assume that they were toeing a Conservative party line and not representing the concerns of their constituents at all?
A former senior fire officer has recently written to Cllr Barnard requesting a meeting to discuss these cuts. This officer still works in the profession as a civilian. But he received no reply from this councillor.
Is this just bad manners or pure Conservative arrogance? I have emailed two conservative and one independent councillors and our MP on this subject. Our MP replied to me having written to the council, of the others, I received no reply. Is this the type of leadership of the council that we should expect when we elect them?
Very good evidence has been produced that counters the statistics provided by the council that these changes have been based on, but no notice has been taken of this evidence.
It begs the question – was there any intention in the first place to take notice of the public, was the poor attempt at public consultation designed in such a way that only a few people responded?
The cuts are to be implemented, but the council has made it quite clear that the next 12 months will be reviewed.
It is now imperative that a clear and measurable set of criteria is agreed with the constituents of this county to ensure that clear, concise data is used to report on in the next year. It is easy to manipulate statistics, what we want is the full truth of costs and losse.