Thursday, December 24, 2009

Fire Plan Ploy

Last week the Conservative Council Cabinet announced delays to the decision to close Warwickshire Fire Stations. With a General Election only months away my fear is this is only a ploy to delay the decision until after the election.

Local people deserve better than an open ended plan to bring proposals back 'some time in the future'. I would like to see these ill thought through plans scrapped altogether. The closures have proved deeply unpopular. Even our own fire fighters and neighbouring fire services have criticised the plan.

Plans put forward by the Conservative cabinet at the county council, would mean the closure of both Warwick and Kenilworth fire stations leaving just the station in Leamington to cover all three towns and surrounding areas.

With consultation on the proposals having closed on 8th December it was intended that the Cabinet would consider the proposals in January and then a final decision on changes would be made at a County Council meeting in February.

That timetable has now been abandoned, but despite pressure from Liberal Democrat councillors at the meeting to scrap the plans altogether no indication was given by the ruling Conservatives as to when plans would be brought back to the Council.

Damning Report from Neighbouring Fire Service.

As promised I have now had time to read the damning report from neighbouring Hereford & Worcester fire service on the plans to close fire stations across Warwickshire, including Warwick.

Its simply not good enough to postpone the decision, possibly until after the General Election. (do the Tories think we are stupid!) Its time to put an end to these plans altogether.

Here are some extracts from the report.

Page 57 - points 12 and 17 their Chief Fire Officer, Paul Hayden summarises his concerns.

Our evaluation suggests that the scale of reductions being proposed will leave Warwickshire without sufficient resilience to deal with routine operations without a significant increase in requests for over the border mutual aid from neighbouring Authorities such as ourselves. Our concern is not simply in relation to the reduction in resources proposed along our immediate border area, but that the reductions proposed across Warwickshire would adversely impact their ability to resource day-to-day activity.

On the basis of evidence Warwickshire has provided, and in light of the above issues, I have grave concerns that proposals to reduce front-line resources across Warwickshire would have a directly adverse impact on communities in Herefordshire and Worcestershire.

You can read this report in full here.
Go to section 10 page 55.
I welcome your comments.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Fire Service Review Plans Delayed.

It looks as though the County Council have delayed the review of the Fire and Rescue Service. In spite of calls for clarification from our Lib-Dem councilors no indication has been given by the ruling
Conservatives as to when plans would be brought back to the Council.

Now the cynical amongst us might conclude that plans will be delayed until after the General Election, as the Tory councils plans have been very unpopular with the Tory MPs and Candidates and they have been doing everything they can to distance themselves from it.

We will just have to see.

Sunday, December 06, 2009

Warwick Fire Service March

Many of us in Warwick attended the Demonstration against the planned closure of Warwick Fire Station today. The proposals are part of a county wide review of the Fire Service. If they go ahead will mean the closure of Warwick and Kenilworth fire stations leaving just Leamington to cover all three towns and surrounding areas. This will impact all three towns.

Everyone I spoke to on the march today are deeply suspicious of the response times between Leamington and Warwick that we were given in the consultation documents. We have every reason to be. Documents unearthed by Lib-Dem councilors across the county, who all oppose these closures show that the risk will actually go up.

You can find links to these documents in my previous posting. Have a read of the risk assessment which paints a very different picture to that given in the documents we were given as part of the consultation.

Given the massive support today I hope the Conservative Councillors on the County Council will see sense, read their own risk report and put an end to these risky plans and keep our fire stations open.

Friday, December 04, 2009

Warwick Fire Station Facts.

On Sunday the 6th December independent councilor Karen Scarrott will be organising a march to save Warwick Fire Station. Karen has kindly invited all of the Parliamentary Candidates for Warwick.

During the public meeting we attended in September we were told our response to the consultation should be based on Fact rather than Emotion. Yet we left the meeting with many questions unanswered.

That is why l have been working with my Lib-Dem colleagues across Warwickshire to dig out the facts using ‘Freedom of Information Requests’.

Below I have posted links to all of these documents - I hope you find them as useful as I have.

The Risk Review report in particular contains a lot of important information which we are entitled to see, so we can make a considered and informed response to the consultation process.

Documents you should see.

DNV Risk Review - Full Report
This is the Det Norske Veritias risk report commissioned by the county council dealing with the proposed changes to our fire service. This report is the most vital report for us to read about these plans to our fire service.

Operational Assessment Peer Review (I&DeA)
Cabinet Report - Chief Fire Officer

Martin Turner's Comparison Report
Martin Turner is my colleague in Stratford upon Avon. He has produced an excellent report examining the information provided in the Det Norske Veritias risk report and the information provided to us as part of the consultation.

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Warwick District Council Savings - Reduce Councillors Costs.

I've just been completing the survey many of us have been sent on the services provided by Warwick District Council.

One question looks at the proportion of our council tax spent on various services and asks us how we would like to apportion the money.

It is not surprising that there is no option to reduce the cost of Councilors Allowances so that we can spend it on something useful such as travel for elderly or disabled for example.

Since the council has been controlled by the Conservatives there has been a marked increase in the number of councilors who receive additional allowances.

Now I have no issue with Councilors receiving reasonable allowances, after all many do a lot of work on our behalf and many take reduced hours and pay cuts from their day jobs. Yet the number of Conservative Councilors who have additional allowances for 'extra responsibilities', in cabinet or chairing committees for example has increased.

I would certainly like to see more of our money spent on services to us in Warwick District and less on putting more snouts in the trough.

It appears to me that this is jobs for the boys. (or girls)