Devon County Council decides not to debate fire service cuts – AGAIN

Devon County Council (DCC) has voted against discussing proposed cuts to the fire service for the second time.

Seaton and Colyton ward member Martin Shaw put forward a motion  to put pressure on the Fire Authority to allow representatives like him to speak and represent their communities at a crucial meeting next month.

The fate of the controversial proposals will be decided on Friday, January 10.

Fire Authority standing orders do not currently allow councillors to speak on behalf of their constituents.

Councillor Shaw had asked for the motion to be debated by the full council on Thursday and for it not to be referred to DCC’s cabinet, as is the normal procedure. He also called for a recorded vote to take place.

He said: “If this is referred to the cabinet, it will return to council in February, which is too late for the issues to which the motion is concerned of.

“There are eight of us in the council who are affected by this, but our rights are restricted in the way the Fire Authority restricts us in addressing them.”

But councillors voted against discussing the motion on Thursday – and rejected calls for a recorded vote to take place.

Only councillors Shaw, Frank Biederman, Jacqi Hodgson, Alan Connett and Alistair Dewhirst, plus Labour councillors, voted in favour of the motion being discussed on the day.

Cllr Rob Hannaford abstained as he is a member of the Fire Authority.

It was the second time Cllr Shaw put forward a motion relating to fire stations closures, only to have discussion on it blocked.

In October, he called for DCC to urge the Fire Authority not to proceed with any of the seven proposed options.

Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue Service is next month set to decide on a range of proposals that could see eight rural fire stations close.

The plans could also lead to the mothballing a number of engines and converting fully-manned stations into part-time operations.

Proposed changes set out in a series of options (with East Devon places affected in bold) are:

  • CLOSE eight fire stations in Appledore, Ashburton, Budleigh Salterton, Colyton, Kingston, Porlock, Topsham, and Woolacombe;
  • CUT full-time night cover at fire stations in Barnstaple, Exmouth, and Paignton;
  • CUT the second fire engine at Crediton, Lynton, Martock and Totnes;
  • CUT the third fire engine at Bridgwater, Taunton, Torquay, and Yeovil;
  • CUT the day cover for the second fire engine at 14 stations in Brixham, Chard, Dartmouth, Frome, Honiton, Ilfracombe, Okehampton, Sidmouth, Tavistock, Teignmouth, Tiverton, Wells, Wellington, and Williton;
  • INTRODUCE six roving fire engines to respond to incidents in areas of greatest risk and carry out prevention and protection work;
  • A mix-and-match seventh option is also presented.

Decision-day over East Devon fire service cuts is postponed (again) until after Christmas