East Devon MP calls for more 'comprehensive look' at fire service needs in wake of proposed cuts
PUBLISHED: 16:41 12 September 2019
East Devon MP Sir Hugo Swire has called for a comprehensive look into the needs of the fire services after visiting Exmouth fire crews.
Exmouth Fire Station faces having its full time 24 hour cover reduced to daytime shifts with retained 'on-call' fire fighters responding to night time call outs, if fire service proposals get the go ahead.
The cuts, proposed as part of Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue's Safer Together consultation, could also see eight fire stations closed including Topsham, Budleigh Salterton and Colyton.
Sir Hugo, who spoke to crew members at Exmouth Fire Station during the visit, said he doesn't believe the proposals are motivated by a need to cut costs.
He said: "I have had a very neutral position to this point but I am, following my meeting, concerned on a number of fronts.
"Overall, we need to have a wider understanding of what it is the fire service is striving to achieve.
"We have been told that this is not driven by economics.
"I don't believe it is driven by costs.
"I have always said I take no view with individual fire stations but we must ensure no reduction in coverage or incident response time for these changes.
"We need a more comprehensive look rather than just drilling down and identifying smaller fire stations, the closure of which causes alarm in the community."
The East Devon MP also said residents would be less concerned if the fire service was to build a large station at the emerging Cranbrook development.
However the Cranbrook Plan says developers have an obligation to provide land for a fire station and ambulance unit but it is up to the local authorities whether one gets built.
Sir Hugo said: "The one glaring omission (from the Safer Together consultation) appears to be Cranbrook.
"If there was a larger station at Cranbrook it would have the additional benefit of being close to the airport and would get good proximity to the M5.
"It seems to me to relocate there would go down very well with my constituents."
The deadline for responses to the consultation is Sunday, September 22.
To take part, go to the Safer Together website