Five weeks ago Suffolk County Council made a “Major announcement to bring Suffolk emergency services together”. It included moving the police station in Debenham to the next door fire station.
Today the East Anglian Daily Times reports on a briefing from the Chief Constable Simon Ash on cuts, including 100 police officers. The paper says:
Woodbridge police station is the latest closure to be announced and bases in Ixworth, Debenham, and Elmswell are currently being looked at.
Yet a month ago Mr Ash was quoted, in a county council press release, saying:
I am delighted that we will be working closely with our Suffolk Fire and Rescue Service colleagues to ensure that our Safer Neighbourhood Teams remain in the heart of the communities in Debenham, Elswell and Ixworth. At a time when our budgets are being cut, we are looking to reduce the costs of our premises in order to preserve police officer numbers where possible and maintain frontline service delivery.
People who live and work in these villages will be reassured by our commitment to keep officers locally based whilst meeting the challenging cuts in funding.
An explanation is required. It may be that someone has looked at the figures given in the press release which showed the Fire Service spending £215,000 on construction and the police £599,000 — a total of £824,000.
The savings annual were said to be £25,000 a year over the the 25 years of the project. That is a total of £625,000.
In other words, even over 25 years the investment would not be recovered. There would still be £199,000 outstanding.
That does not seem to be a good deal in this time of cuts and deficit reduction. It does suggest that efficiency savings are difficult to achieve.
Five fire engines were called out in Suffolk yesterday to rescue a cat from a roof in Leiston. While firefighters from Bury St Edmunds, Felixstowe and Bungay were heading to the scene a local fireman got a ladder, climbed up and rescued the cat. It ran away as soon as they reached the ground.
It seems that the turnout was required by some working at height rules. The guidelines also, apparently, allow firefighters to work temporarily from the top of a ladder.
There are, of course, outraged comments about the “waste of taxpayers’ money” in the story in the East Anglian Daily Times. Red faces at fire HQ too, no doubt.