Somerset

Devon and Somerset fire station closure plans dropped

Fire engine
Image caption A consultation into proposed cuts at Devon and Somerset Fire Service took place last year

Plans to close several fire stations in Devon and Somerset have been dropped by the local fire service.

Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue Service has recommended seven of eight stations, originally earmarked for closure, now remain open.

It follows a consultation into plans unveiled last year to cut or reduce fire services in the county in order to save money and re-organise its resources to better meet the risks.

A final decision is due next week.

The new recommendations propose keeping open Appledore, Ashburton, Colyton, Kingston and Woolacombe stations in Devon and Porlock in Somerset, subject to periodic review.

Budleigh Salterton station will close with affected firefighters moving to Exmouth, and the station at Topsham will be relocated to fire service headquarters in Clyst St George.

Plans to remove the second or third fire engines from several stations, including Taunton, Yeovil, Bridgwater, Martock, Crediton and Lynton, remain in place in the new recommendations.

Changes to staffing are also still recommended, with increased wages suggested for on-call firefighters at a cost of £1.4m a year.

The service put six options in a public consultation last year as part of a move to save £4m.

The three-month review received nearly 4,000 responses, with 95% opposed to closures, and five petitions opposing the original proposals received more than 43,000 signatures.

Chief fire officer Lee Howell said: "After reflecting on staff suggestions, public feedback and considering how we need to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of the service, we have recommended a balanced set of proposals for consideration by the Fire Authority."

Campaigner Denise Sage, who is opposed to the closure of Porlock fire station, said she was "relieved" with the recommendation to keep it open.

"It's much more than just putting out fires. Our fire stations are co-responders. They do so much for the village, They are really special things that do save lives."

A final decision is due to be made by the local Fire Authority next Friday.

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