MY first thought when reading Councillor Janet Duncton’s letter last week was – is she toeing the Conservative party line?
If she isn’t, I can only assume that she has only been talking to those who want the changes and has
not taken time to speak to those who do the job or those that can give her a more rounded picture.
She opens with the ubiquitous ‘everyone’. Well I do not think ‘everyone’ was fully aware of the proposals and on those grounds alone it could be argued that the process was not handled correctly and therefore should be called in.
She is satisfied that this will not affect safety, if you read my letter last week, you will have seen that I have commented on the safety of our firefighters as well as the public. Greater distances will be travelled under ‘blue light’ conditions, this can be stressful and increases risk.
To the public, attendance times for supporting appliances will increase.
I am not sure what stories she has been fed with regard to the 4x4 vehicles or what she means by ‘up-to-date equipment’, if the authority has plans for new 4x4 vehicles then it should have been made public.
But if she is thinking about the current vehicles, they carry four firefighters, which, with personal protective equipment can be quite a squeeze, a small tank of water, a small pump, beaters and a few small tools. In no-one’s imagination can this vehicle possibly replace a major pumping appliance.
Cllr Duncton refers to the difficulty in recruiting retained firefighters, this, over decades has been in part caused by local authorities’ lack of a robust recruitment system, not just here, but nationally, and a lack of communication with both the community and with local businesses.
Nationally, the government also has a part of the blame for not making greater incentives available for businesses to release people, as they do with the Territorial Army. As a politician, she has a part to play in improving this.
Taking an appliance away does not remove this problem, it just cushions it for a while until the station’s establishment reduces yet again, it then becomes a problem to man two fire appliances rather than three!
She is correct in one area, many hours have been spent on these proposals, however, they were not spent in talking to the public!