If you want a fire & rescue service that keeps you safe, then your vote matters on the 6th of May. Please make sure you are registered and that you use your vote in all the elections on that day. If you are already registered, make it easy to vote by applying for a postal vote, but please note that your completed application form must arrive by 20th April.
Whilst campaigning in support of our fire & rescue services I have spoken to politicians, local and national, from every political party that will listen. I have yet to decide which candidates will get my vote in May and I will not try to influence anyone else to vote for specific candidates or political parties.
However, based on past performance, the one thing I am sure of is that I will not be voting for any Conservative candidates. That is because Conservative Government policies and Conservative County Councillors have, over the last ten years, done immense damage to our fire & rescue service.
As a result, we are all less safe.
Policies and decisions have not only been inept, they have been arrogantly steamrollered through with dishonest claims, unsubstantiated assurances and inadequate scrutiny.
Valid public concerns have been ignored, firefighters bullied,
and opposition Councillors treated with contempt.
We were told in 2014 that planned cuts were 'improvements' that would ensure at least 30 fire engines available around the clock. Despite warnings that the cuts would make fire crew availability worse, the Conservatives stuck their heads in the sand and went ahead. The result was that during the day, less than half that number were available and on occasions as few as ten fire engines were available to cover the whole of West Sussex.
We were told that money taken from operational response, by cutting fire engines and firefighters, would be used for prevention to save more lives. In 2015/16, when the cuts took effect, there were four fire deaths in West Sussex. In the first three quarters of 2020/21 there have already been four fire deaths in West Sussex (quarter four figures have not been released). The number of fire casualties taken to hospital has increased. In 2015/16 it was 43, in 2019/20 (latest full year figures) it was fifty two, a 21% increase.