Fire engine Burnham-On-Sea general

A meeting to decide on controversial plans to make sweeping changes to Devon and Somerset’s fire service has been moved until after Christmas due to next month’s General Election.

Devon and Somerset Fire & Rescue Service was due to decide on a range of proposals that could see eight rural fire stations close, with the mothballing of a number of engines and conversion of fully-manned stations into part-time operations also outlined, at a meeting on December 18.

A meeting of the Fire Authority on Friday saw them agree that the meeting should be cancelled and instead held early in 2020. It has now been confirmed that the crunch meting will take place at 10am on Friday January 10th, 2020.

The meeting, to consider the results of the consultation process carried out over the summer, had scheduled for 18th December.

A spokesman said: “Members of staff and trade union representatives had raised concerns about the impact the decision may have on staff if made just before Christmas.”

“In addition, a General Election has been called since the date for the Fire Authority meeting was set. The Service would not have chosen a date for the meeting in such close proximity to an election. It is important that Members are available to give full consideration to the results of the consultation prior to making any decision.”

“Devon & Somerset Fire & Rescue consulted over the summer on proposals to modernise the service. The proposals include station closures, reducing the number of fire appliances and changing crewing arrangements. These changes would enable the Service to reinvest in prevention and protection work to reduce the risk of incidents occurring.”

“During the 12-week consultation, the Service received about 3,300 completed surveys, 700 written submissions, and five petitions.”

The proposals could see the closure of Appledore, Ashburton, Budleigh Salterton, Colyton, Kingston, Porlock, Topsham and Woolacombe stations – described by the fire service as ‘low risk, low activity stations, which are in close proximity to other fire stations’.

At a number of other stations, fire engines would be taken out of service, and stations could become on-call at night only, while six day-crewed roving fire engines could be introduced. Implementation of any changes agreed will commence in 2020.

Burnham-On-Sea Fire Station is not due to lose any fire appliances under the plans and will have the same cover as currently.