Prescott's new Regional Command Centre is a Trojan Horse leading to abolition of Suffolk Fire Service

Wednesday, 28 January, 2004

David Ruffley today warned that the Suffolk Fire Service could be abolished under Government plans and replaced with officials located at a more distant regional level. New laws debated in Parliament on 26 January will allow John Prescott to restructure fire authorities on a regional basis. David Ruffley cautioned that this could allow cuts to be made to local fire services without any input from local people.

David said: 'I am very concerned about the Government's plans to give itself powers to abolish Suffolk Fire Service and replace it with a body that could be anywhere in East Anglia. This will inevitably mean the new fire authority would be less responsive to local needs and concerns.

The new legislation will also involve the restructuring of the fire service. I would support concrete measures that would improve safety and save lives; but I have fears that regionalisation will open the door to possible cuts in local fire services by distant regional officials who do not understand or care for the needs of local people. John Prescott seems to be more interested in his pet project of breaking England up into a series of 'regions' than actually delivering better quality local public services.

The new control centres mean the abolition of the current control centres of: Suffolk; Norfolk; Hertfordshire; Cambridgeshire and Peterborough; Bedfordshire and Luton; and Essex-Southend-Thurrock. That means the same new centre will have to cover calls over a massive area from Bury St Edmunds to Billericay and Basildon! That's not a local service for Suffolk and I oppose this change.'