Fire engine consultation "fundamentally flawed", according to councillors (From This Is Local London)
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Surrey fire engine consultation "fundamentally flawed", according to Epsom councillors
A consultation on removing a fire engine from Epsom was "fundamentally flawed" and must be redone, councillors have demanded.
The leaders of each of Epsom and Ewell Council’s political groups - councillors Clive Woodbridge, Julie Morris, Sheila Carlson and Darren Dale - have told Surrey County Council (SCC) it must go back to the drawing board over Surrey Fire and Rescue Service’s (SFRS) consultation on reconfiguring services across the county, which ended last week.
The consultation started in December, triggered by West Sussex Fire Service’s decision to remove a fire engine from Horley in April 2013.
Under the proposals, both Epsom and Reigate, which currently have two engines each, would lose an engine.
Epsom’s engine would be relocated to Burgh Heath by 2014 - which would nearly double the average time it takes for a second engine to attend a more serious incident.
In their letter, seen by the Epsom Guardian, the councillors said the consultation had run for an "inadequate" time period and public meetings should have been held to allow residents to give their views.
It also said the consultation documents were only available on SCC’s website under a heading which read ‘consultations that have ended’, meaning many residents may not have submitted their responses.
The response stated: "We believe the consultation process is fundamentally flawed and the county council must reconsider its approach before proceeding any further."
It also raised "serious concerns about the effect of the changes to the northern parts of the borough" which would result in "increased life and property risks".
The response said: "We would like to know the reasoning that sees a solution which provides Reigate and Banstead borough with three stations, Mole Valley with two stations and Epsom with only one station and one appliance."
It went on to say that "the argument for change seems to be based on travel times rather than the anticipated seriousness of incidents."
Councillors also said that Epsom, the most densely populated borough in Surrey, is experiencing a population growth through an increase in housing developments, meaning fire resources under SFRS’ proposals would be "spread too thinly".
The response concluded: "We would ask you to reconsider the proposal to remove one appliance from Epsom as we are concerned this will lead to increased likelihood of loss of life and serious injury to our residents."