Councillors back plans to cut fire cover in Ilfracombe
PROPOSALS to make Ilfracombe Fire Station a fully retained fire station and axe its day time shift have been approved and put out for public consultation by the Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue Service Authority.
The proposals, which aim to save £5.5m over the next two years, were moved this morning at a meeting at the service’s headquarters in Clyst St George, near Exeter.
The changes affect several other stations, in Taunton, Torquay and Plymouth, and also include plans to cut staffing levels, although they do not include compulsory redundancies.
During the meeting Fire Brigade Union spokesman Dave Chapple addressed members of the authority.
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He labelled the changes as “the worst we have faced in the service’s history” and said it was the union’s view that government policy, which has forced the service into making the savings, is wrong. He also attacked the service over its reluctance to seek a rise in council tax to prevent the cuts, an option available to it.
“Please don’t take any options off the table,” he asked. “The government will keep cutting if we keep accepting it.”
Councillor Alwyn Thomas, from Plymouth, asked Chief Fire Officer Lee Howell to show “flexibility” when asking firefighters to move stations and also asked what the difference between turn out time for a manned and retained station is.
Mr Howell said at a manned station an engine can be on the road within 60 seconds of receiving a call. At a retained station, he said, the target turn out time is five minutes.
The reality though, Mr Chapple said, is at retained stations turn out times are often between seven and 10 minutes, which can make a big difference when a crew is headed to a fire.
Councillor George Gribble then addressed the meeting and said: “We all know where we are and there’s little point me or anyone else going on about it.” He moved the proposals be put out for consultation and was supported by Councillor Derek Mills.
Mr Mills said: “This is going out to the public. We can sit here and talk and talk and talk but the important stage is when this comes back.”
Chairman Mark Healey then took a vote and the proposal was moved, with 12 councillors supporting the motion and four, all from Plymouth, abstaining. None opposed the motion.
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