'Bring in the heavyweights'

PUBLISHED: 01:01 31 January 2008 | UPDATED: 08:48 10 June 2010

EXMOUTH town council is to lobby local political heavyweights in an attempt to save the town's 24-hour fire cover from being axed. Councillors on Monday turned the heat on fire chief Paul Young and the chairman of the fire authority, Councillor Bernard Hu

EXMOUTH town council is to lobby local political heavyweights in an attempt to save the town's 24-hour fire cover from being axed.Councillors on Monday turned the heat on fire chief Paul Young and the chairman of the fire authority, Councillor Bernard Hughes, when they met with members to discuss proposals to cut full-time cover at the Liverton Business Park fire station in favour of retained crews between the hours of 6pm and 9am.Exmouth councillors said they would ask Minister for the South West Ben Bradshaw and East Devon MP Hugo Swire to join forces and lobby the government for extra funding for the fire and rescue service.In cross-party support, the council was unified in backing former mayor Eileen Wragg's proposal.Chairman of the fire and rescue authority Bernard Hughes said: "The best thing the town can do is make a strong representation to the fire authority. "The town needs to be united and put forward a strong case to the fire authority and to say 'not in my backyard'."Exmouth firefighter Andy Gould said: "Three thousand people have signed our petition. Surely the views of the people of Exmouth count for something?" During the meeting, chief fire officer Paul Young admitted Exmouth would face delays in its fire cover if the station was downgraded to day-manned. He said he was in an 'impossible situation' because of a government shortfall in funding.No-one in the fire authority or the fire service wanted to make any cuts, added Mr Young."I don't want to see this happen. None of us do. I have never seen my role as making reductions in frontline services," he said."I am not in this job and the fire and rescue service to cut frontline services. I am passionate about giving the best service we can to the public."I am not going to pretend to the public that reducing frontline services is desirable. It's inevitable there will be longer response times.

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