Last party at the bar

PUBLISHED: 17:00 27 February 2009 | UPDATED: 10:34 10 June 2010

PAST and present fire - fighters gathered at Topsham fire station to throw one last party in honour of the closure of the fundraising bar. The beloved bar, which had served for nearly half a century as a symbol of community fundraising, is on schedule to

PAST and present fire - fighters gathered at Topsham fire station to throw one last party in honour of the closure of the fundraising bar.The beloved bar, which had served for nearly half a century as a symbol of community fundraising, is on schedule to be ripped out and replaced with a disabled toilet - a year after the plans were unveiled which led to outcry in the town.Over the years the takings over the bar have raised hundreds of thousands of pounds for the Fire Service Benevolence Fund and local charities such as the Sea Scouts, Topsham Swim-a-thon and carnival.Work was planned to have started on Monday, February 23, but after another delay and further confusion as councillors fought to the bitter end to keep the bar open, there is still no set date when work will begin.A source within the Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue Service said: "The original estimate (for the work) was £4,000, that went up and up and now they say it's nearer to £26,000."Now the Fire Authority has become involved and they have asked for a full list of all the charities we have raised money for."Fire Station manager John Eliott said: "Our main source of income is the bar, it will have a big impact on the community."A fire service spokesman said the disabled toilet with shower facilities was necessary to make the station compliant with the Disabled Discrimination Act.Former firefighter Councillor Rob Newby said: "I think this is ludicrous."After a particularly traumatic fire they need to go somewhere after they stand down - they can't go to the pub to discuss what just happened - people don't want to hear about that in a pub."The councillor has been in talks with the fire chief to urge him to reconsider the planned work.

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