Closure-threatened fire stations get Christmas reprieve

PUBLISHED: 11:55 08 November 2019 | UPDATED: 12:22 08 November 2019

Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue Service HQ. Picture: Callum Lawton

Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue Service HQ. Picture: Callum Lawton

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A decision on controversial plans to close fire stations across Devon and Somerset has been delayed until after Christmas.

The fire authority was due to decide on a range of proposals, which included closing stations at Budleigh Salterton, Colyton and Topsham, at a meeting on December 18.

But at its meeting on Friday (November 8), the fire authority unanimously agreed to cancel that meeting and reschedule early in 2020.

Mike Pearson, director of governance and digital services, in a report to the meeting, said the December 18 meeting would not have been arranged had they known the date of the election.

Councillor Ann Brown said it would be 'inhumane' to make a decision just before Christmas.

Mr Pearson said: "Since the publication of the agenda for this meeting of the authority, a snap general election has been called for December 12.

"An authority meeting within this period would have been avoided had the date of the General Election been known at the time the date of the additional meeting of the authority was set.

"Additionally, the service has received representations from representative bodies expressing concerns about the potential impact on staff welfare arising from any decisions on the consultation proposals being taken a few days prior to the Christmas break.

"Taking account of these issues and having consulted with the chair of the authority, it is proposed that the authority cancels its meeting scheduled for December 18."

Sara Randall-Johnson, chairman of the fire authority, proposed the recommendations be accepted.

She said: "As a result of the snap general election and it being as close to the festive season as the meeting is, then it is prudent to move it into the New Year."

Cllr Ann Bown said: "I am delighted that it being delayed.

"It was inhumane to have just before Christmas as we would be dealing with people's lives.

"This meeting should be after Christmas so at least whatever we decide, they can enjoy their Christmas with their families."

The Authority unanimously agreed to cancel the December 18 meeting and to allow the clerk to identify a new date for the additional meeting of the Authority to be held early in 2020.

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