Ilfracombe united in rejecting fire cuts


- Credit: Archant

Town council says it has listened to the community and adds its support to opposition against cutbacks proposed by fire service.

ILFRACOMBE’S councillors have voted unanimously to oppose cuts to the town’s fire service.

On Monday night the council agreed to stand behind the ‘overwhelming’ message of the Ilfracombe community and reject plans to reduce the town’s fire station to on call only.

The controversial plans are part of a raft of cuts proposed by Devon and Somerset Fire Authority as it bids to save £5.5million over the next two years.

Removing the ‘whole time’ day time crew at Ilfracombe would save some £300,000, but the scheme has met with fury from most quarters.

The tone of the council’s own comments to the fire authority were agreed in a motion put forward by Councillor Philip Webb, who said: “We speak to many sectors of our community, we attended a public meeting and it is clear that an overwhelming majority of this community strongly oppose this.”

Cllr Ron Ley said all councillors should listen to the message their community was sending out. He said both sides at the recent public meeting had been professional, but he had been impressed with the facts presented by the Fire Brigade Union (FBU).

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“The huge fear is being able to respond to fire and rescue shouts in the required time,” he said.

Cllr Mike Dymond said some of the biggest fires in North Devon had happened in the town: “We have to support our firemen in Ilfracombe by keeping the fire service as it is and we must be grateful for what they do.”

Cllr Frank Pearson said the fire service bosses ‘did not seem to have a very strong remit’ when they presented their case at the public meeting in April:

“They were just saying they wanted to save ‘x’ amount of money a year and we are going to do it like that,” he said.

“It was demonstrated by their own comments that people will suffer – it might not be your family but it will be somebody’s.”

Cllr Anne Thomas added: “In my view the fire brigade is another part of the community. We have lots of help from them and they give up their own time to do it, whether they are retained or full time.”

The council must make its submission to the fire authority by Friday, when the consultation deadline expires.

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