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19 September 2019
Plans to cut or reduce fire services in Somerset have been branded ‘ridiculous’ and ‘unrealistic’ by the County Council, and described as having no consideration of the impact on deprived areas, or the growing and ageing population.
Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue Service is currently consulting on the Safer Together proposals, which look at how fire stations, engines and crews can be best deployed for the future needs of the two counties.
Possible changes include Porlock station closing and reduced cover in Bridgwater, Taunton and Yeovil, as well as smaller changes to other stations.
Division members made their views clear at a meeting of the Council's policies and place scrutiny committee in Taunton.
Conservative Bob Filmer said the changes could increase the risk at tourist hotspots. "The risks they face if they do not have adequate fire cover are dire," he said.
Liberal Democrat Tessa Munt said her constituents in Wells had no confidence in the proposals, which would see one of the city's two fire engines reduced to night cover only.
Councillor John Hunt said it was ‘ridiculous’ to deprive Taunton of one of its three fire engines given the large amount of new housing developments in the local area.
He said: "With two engines out on call, the Taunton area has 109,000 people who will be left with one engine if they have an incident."
In its formal response to the consultation, the council said it should work with the fire authority to improve fire prevention, including encouraging people to stop smoking and taking steps to reduce the number of false alarms.
The council has also criticised the nature and layout of the consultation, saying it ‘appears to lead the reader’s thinking, has limited detail and does not allow for innovative thinking’.
The Safer Together consultation concludes on Sunday (22 September), with the fire authority making a final decision on the proposals in early November.