Axe set to fall on Manea Fire Station as part of proposed cuts to county’s service

THE axe looks set to fall on Manea Fire Station as sweeping cuts to the county’s fire service begin to bite.

A “Service Redesign” report - set to be discussed next Thursday - recommends that the village’s fire station is closed to trim an annual saving of �80,000 off dwindling budgets.

The proposals were met with fury by Manea’s residents with an online petition attracting hundreds of signatures.

Fenland District Councillor Mark Archer said: “Everybody in the village supports keeping it. The firefighters do all sorts of stuff in the community - it isn’t just the callouts.

“They’re a big part of our community and we would be aghast if we lost them.”

Speaking at a press conference today, Deputy Chief Fire Officer Chris Strickland said: “We will not be trying to hide from the fact that there will be an impact for the residents of Manea as we remove the appliance and, ultimately, close the fire station.

“We will be working with residents to identify what we can put back into the community for a period of time to drive down the risk before we close the station. But we feel it is the right thing to do to recommend this.”

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The closure is one of a swathe of cuts proposed by the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Fire Authority in an effort to save more than �4 million in the next four years.

The report said that “the service must consider the risk posed to the wider population and ensure that fire appliances are placed in the most effective locations.” It said there would be less than a minute increase in response times Manea’s callouts.

The report highlighted the “limited number of calls” in Manea’s turnout area - an average of 24 calls per year - and said there had been difficulties in “recruiting and retaining retained duty staff.

“Currently the appliance is not available on 46 per cent of occasions and so the area is served by other fire engines already during that time.”

Also proposed is the removal of appliances from St Ives, Ramsey, Soham, Ely, Burwell, Thorney and Gamblingay.

Huntingdon Fire Station is set to switch from a wholetime crewing system to a “Day Crewed Plus” system, which would mean an increase of 8-13 seconds in response times across Huntingdonshire.

It is proposed that both turntable ladders - stationed at Dogsthorpe and Cambridge - should be removed from service as the Combined Aerial Rescue Appliances (CARAs) “obviates the requirement” for them.

Also removed from service would be one Rescue Vehicle, one Hazardous Material Unit and the Operational Support Unit at a combined saving of more than �450,000.

Further proposed cuts include savings on the support budgets and the implementation of a new “Wholetime” shift system.

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