A packed public meeting to discuss the closure of Woolacombe’s fire station has been urged to have their say before it is too late – and to call on others to do the same.

Ironically the village's retained fire fighters were called out to a road collision just minutes before the meeting started.

But the meeting, organised by Mortehoe Parish Council, heard this incident would not count towards the 'official' number of shouts because the collision happened in a neighbouring community and would not be credited towards Woolacombe's total.

Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue Service is currently consulting on the closure of eight stations across the region, with six proposals on the table, but all would see the stations close.

Around 150 people packed into the Village Hall were told if they have concerns they must complete the consultation questionnaire but also write or email letters to the 26 councillors on the Fire Authority that will make the decision.

The service claims there has been a reduction in the number of call outs in some areas and estimates it needs to save £8.4million over the next three years.

The meeting was told the fire service consultation event claimed Woolacombe was called out 15 times a year, but a retained fire fighter told them it had actually been 36, including life-saving medical emergency shouts as a co-responder.

The fire service consultation document says there were 21 shouts in 2018.

Scott Young, chairman of Devon and Somerset Fire Brigades Union (FBU), said the loss of eight stations would be 'horrendous'.

He said: "We are talking about taking away 33 fire engines, so for us it will be the worst cuts in history if this goes ahead."

He said the FBU did not feel the finances added up and called on the service to do a risk assessment for all of its proposed options.

County councillor Andrea Davis, who is not on the fire authority, told people at the meeting to spread the word as much as possible, to complete the questionnaire and write their letters.

She said: "Individual letters saying how this affects you are really powerful.

"I don't think the fire authority members are aware of the strength of feeling in places like Woolacombe and those I represent."

After the meeting, North Devon MP Peter Heaton-Jones said he was opposed to the closure of Woolacombe.

He said: "While I have reservations about many of the other changes that they are proposing, the closure of a station is final. Other changes in the way staff operate or the number of and location of appliances can be adjusted over time. But if we lose Woolacombe station, the service that it not only gives the community but the capacity and support it gives to the system, it is not coming back."

To have your say, go to www.dsfire.gov.uk and to find the fire authority councillor contacts, visit https://fireauthority.dsfire.gov.uk .