COMMENT: Fire service should remain at heart of county council
Sometimes, there are issues that bring us together no matter what political colour we might be.
Today (Friday July 22) we saw that when we debated the plans of the Sussex Police and Crime Commissioner to look at whether there is a case to take over the running of our fire service.
I think we sent a very clear message; we believe West Sussex Fire and Rescue Service should remain at the heart of our county council, working to make our communities stronger, safer and more resilient. (If you missed it, you can watch the debate here.
We’ve got a exemplary model of working here that, I believe, should remain and be championed. Politicians from all our political parties agreed that today and so we stood together to launch our ‘Safer in our Hands’ campaign.
This campaign is important to me because, as I wrote yesterday, if you truly believe in something and know it to be right, it’s a cause worth standing up and speaking for.
Our fire service sits at the heart of our communities and public protection directorate.
It will always be well known and respected for its emergency response, but its key focus as part of this council team is to prevent and protect, rather than simply providing an emergency service when things go wrong.
Crews work across towns and parishes in the county identifying older residents who are isolated so that they can get the support they need to stay independent.
They work with Trading Standards to help address the growing problem of scams, provide schemes to help young people in times of trouble and step in to support communities to prevent problems like flooding.
They also carry out thousands of home fire safety checks every single year and visit hundreds of schools.
All that prevention work could be lost if the service is taken over by the Police and Crime Commissioner’s office.
Katy Bourne sat in our council chamber today and heard the impassioned pleas from our politicians about the difference this service makes to the lives of our residents day in and day out. I hope she listens.
I’m determined to do all I can to keep our fire service and was delighted this was supported today.
So I’m calling on all our residents and communities to join me, to join us, in making the case for West Sussex Fire and Rescue Service to remain where it can have the greatest impact on our residents’ lives.
If you feel the same way, please support me.
Put your name to our online petition at https://haveyoursay.westsussex.gov.uk/policy-and-comms/fire-service-campaign
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