Ilfracombe fire cut plans approved for consultation

12:51 18 January 2013

Archant

Fire authority meeting agrees draft proposals aimed at saving £5.5million can go out for public consultation.

THE green light has been given to put out for public consultation draft fire service budget cut proposals that would see Ilfracombe lose its day time crew.

Councillors on Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue Authority agreed on Friday a range of proposals the service says will save £5.5million.

The service’s government grant has been reduced by 10.3 per cent in this year and a further 7.3 in 2014, amounting to £3.4m in the next financial year and a further £2.1m the following year.

“The chief fire officer and I have lobbied government and will continue to do so to ensure we get a better grant settlement next time. In addition, we have specifically asked for a meeting with the minister to outline our concerns,” said authority chairman Councillor Mark Healey.

“We will now be keen to listen to staff and the public but whatever the outcome of the consultation, we still need to save £5.5m. Closing fire stations is not where we want to be.”

The public consultation starts on Monday, January 28 and runs until April 22.

There are 11 proposals on the table to reduce the funding gap, including changing the crewing arrangements at Ilfracombe from day crewed to on call only.

The service has said there will be no compulsory redundancies and the nine crew members on the day shift would be given other roles.

But opponents, including Ilfracombe Fire Brigades Union members and fire fighters, say the changes could put lives at risk by increasing the time it takes retained on call crew to respond.

They also claim the loss of the full time day crew would lead to a big reduction in the community safety and education work the carry out.

Chief fire officer Lee Howell added: “These are difficult times and difficult decisions need to be made. The proposals that have been agreed for public consultation today do not require closure of fire stations, removal of fire engines or compulsory redundancies.

“We aim to maintain or improve public safety by changing the way we do business and by crewing some fire engines differently but like many other public and private organisations, we do have to operate with less money.”

Consultation documents will be available to view at www.dsfire.gov.uk/consultation

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