Fire station closure threats at Sheringham, Mundesley and Reepham
Three fire stations in north Norfolk could be closed as county hall looks to make more budget savings.
Sheringham's £1.25m station, which opened just three years ago, is among those under the microscope as Norfolk County Council goes through another belt-tightening exercise.
Mundesley and Reepham are also listed for possible axing - while Cromer could lose its second main fire engine as councillors look at a range of options.
They need to find £111m worth of savings over the next three years, and are putting a raft of services under scrutiny including libraries.
Officials have outlined four options for saving money in the fire service, with plans of action to achieve cuts of 8pc, 10pc, 12.5pc and 25pc.
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Under the 8pc cuts (saving £2.2m) Cromer would lose its second main fire engine to be replaced by a smaller four-wheel-drive machine.
If the cuts rose to 12.5pc (saving £3.4m), 11 one-pump rural stations would be axed including Sheringham, Mundesley and Reepham.
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Yesterday's Norfolk County Council communities committee however heard that the local fire service was the most efficient in the country having already trimmed off all the fat - with budget reductions of more than 25pc over the past decade - so further cuts would go to the bone.
The Sheringham station on Cromer Road was paid for by Tesco as part of the planning gain for its store opposite, on the site of the old station.
It was hailed as the future when it opened as the building is shared by police, coastguard and ambulance crews.
North Norfolk District Council member for Sheringham, Doug Smith, who was town mayor when the new station opened in 2012, said it would be 'devastating' if the station was closed.
He said: 'Response times to a fire would be very much reduced if the crews came from further afield. We never have a problem gaining retained firemen in Sheringham and the crew is always up to strength.'
He feared closure could potentially jeopardise the future for the other emergency services in the town.
Mr Smith said crew members lived around the corner from the station meaning they could get to incidents in the town within minutes.
Current mayor David Gooch said a closure could create life-threatening situations because of crews having to come from further away.
He said: 'I'm lost for words that the county council is even considering it. There could be potentially disastrous effects. Incidents could develop from a minor emergency to a major situation because of extra time involved.'
At Mundesley, parish council planning committee chairman Laura Stango said any fire station closure would be 'devastating to the village'.
Mrs Stango, whose husband Mario is a retired firefighter, added there were large hotels, care homes and holiday accommodation in Mundesley that would be at risk if the fire station was to close. And the station was the closest to the Bacton gas terminal.
The options will be put out to public consultation for a final decision by the full county council in February.