Manea fire station saved for now and possibly for good after cuts found elsewhere

MANEA Fire Station has been saved at least until next year and possibly for good after Cambs fire service announced it had made the cuts it needs elsewhere.

The campaign to keep the Manea station open follows a campaign backed by this newspaper and led by MP Steve Barclay.

“I hear Cambs Fire has announced savings can be met without any retained station cut,” he tweeted last night after the news was announced. “Big success for Save Manea campaign”.

Mr Barclay had challenged the fire authority’s accounting principles and summoned fire chiefs to meet him and other MPs at the House of Commons.

He was critical of many aspects of the way the authority spends it money and was highly critical of the numbers employed in their media department.

“If you’re spending �300,000 a year on your press office and this station (Manea) costs �60,000 a year then that speaks for itself,” he said.

“They managed to have a fire engine in 1834 in this village, although I suspect that they didn’t have six press officers in 1834.

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“This is not a personal attack. This is me doing my job and speaking up for the community.”

The fire authority says it has identified the �4.2 million savings it needs to make and this will not now include closing any station.

Graham Strickland, deputy chief fire officer, says the cuts are all “pretty much from support services” and include HR, payroll and training and could mean up to 40 back office staff losing their jobs.

The force is also expected to save 25 fire fighter jobs over the next three years but Mr Strickland emphasises this will have no effect on operations since the posts will be lost through a series of manning changes over the next three years.

Identifying savings “was not an easy process” he said and there could still be problems if the authority was forced to make either �5 million or even �6 million worth of savings. That wouldn’t be known for some months.

He said changes to the shift systems currently in place were the first significant changes in over 30 years.

“It is one of the most difficult things our fire fighters will ever gave to face,” he said as many would face changes to their working pattern.

“Our staff is going to make arrangements for their personal life and it is not going to be easy. However we’ve all got to pull together to drive these savings through.”