Sadly it is West Sussex County Council that is guilty of taking figures out of context and making misleading claims. Whilst the public is expected to accept figures that they select for publication without question, they immediately criticise anyone who reveals figures they want to keep quiet.
Those who are protesting against these dangerous cuts have only ever used figures available from WSCC or Government departments. They are presented as cold, hard facts. Trying to excuse the high number of deaths, and implying that West Sussex is somehow unlucky is very shabby behaviour.
To save lives I would urge the public to sign the “Stop fire engine and firefighter cuts in West Sussex” petition. You can find it online by searching for ‘West Sussex Epetitions’.
Response times are increasing in West Sussex and on average people have to wait 30% longer for help to arrive than in East Sussex. That is a direct result of previous cuts. Government and independent reviews have proven that when response times increase, more people die and more property damage is caused.
WSCC know, but want to hide, the fact that removing more fire engines and firefighters will cost more lives. Their own assessment of the effect of the cuts showed an extra 55 deaths in 100 years, which equals an extra death every two years. Yet now WSCC spokespersons choose to ignore or dismiss their own figures.
The County Council carried out an inadequate review, a sham consultation, and the changes to the service were not put to the full County Council for approval. The October debate was about using savings to avoid the cuts, and was defeated by just 28 of the 71 County Councillors. Many sneaked off before the vote and all but one Conservative followed the party whip.
Let’s be clear, these cuts are nothing to do with meeting future needs, just about meeting an inadequate budget. Commuters must breathe a sigh of relief that the County Council is not in charge of the railways. If they were, then there would be fewer trains, with less coaches, and journey times would be longer.
This campaign is supported by most serving firefighters, many retired firefighters, parish and town councils, several County Councillors and the public.