Scilly’s Council Votes To Give Up Fire And Rescue Services

fire station signScilly’s Council will tell the government that they’d like to give up running Fire and Rescue operations.

The government has asked local authorities for their views on proposals to make the elected Police and Crime Commissioners accountable for the provision of fire services.

It’s an idea that’s designed to save money.

On Tuesday Scilly’s Chief Fire Officer Steve Webster presented councillors with the arguments for and against the proposal, outlined within the consultation.

The reasons for keeping islands’ control of the fire service centre on the “unique circumstances” of Scilly and the current site share arrangements with the ambulance and the coastguard.

Steve also advised that islanders enjoy significantly more home fire safety inspections, sometimes annually on the off-islands.

Some mainlanders have never had them because of budget cuts.

The Council does well financially from an independent fire service.

Back in 2009, officers convinced the Home Office to offer more funding than the standard formula allocation because of our social deprivation and coastal flooding risk.

They receive more money than it costs to run the service so it generates a surplus.

Cllr Ted Moulson, who sits on the Police and Crime Panel, told councillors that he’d heard it was “given” that the change would be enforced in “a done deal.”

Members heard that the level of response shouldn’t change if the PCC took over and some councillors felt that handing over the fire service could remove “a significant risk.”

Cllr Gaz O’Neill’s said it offered a “win, win’ situation.

But Cllr Colin Daly asked how the fire staff at the airport would be affected.

Meeting Chairman Robert Dorrien Smith responded by saying the airport would be, “under a shifting regime.” That’s because the Council will end its airport operation within the next 11 months, now they’ve decided to hand back the lease.

All but one member voted to back the government’s proposal for the PCC to take on the fire service here.

Cllr Richard McCarthy abstained. He wanted our Council to first talk to Cornwall Council’s Fire and Rescue service, from whom Scilly contracts services.

After the meeting, Radio Scilly spoke with Cllr Geoff Brown, the Cornwall councillor responsible for Fire and Rescue.

Cornwall Council’s view is that governance of fire under Cornwall Council is fine and, unlike Scilly’s Council, Cornish councillors will fight to retain control of their fire service.

He attended the Local Government Association Fire Commission on Tuesday, where senior civil servants said the proposal would only happen if all local parties were willing.

And yesterday the government reaffirmed to him that the proposal was not mandatory.

Cllr Brown has welcomed an approach from Scilly’s Council to see if there are benefits by closer working across the two Fire Authorities.

5 Responses to Scilly’s Council Votes To Give Up Fire And Rescue Services

  1. I read this with utter disbelief October 22, 2015 at 9:06 pm

    Well hopefully the police and crime commissioner will be able to apply his extensive knowledge and experience of fire fighting to help improve the fire service and further cut down incidents of fire, making our community even safer. *Sigh* If the council can so easily give up a revenue earning service whilst bemoaning (on the same day!) that other services in its remit make huge losses, how easy would it be for the people to give up its council? Perhaps the police and crime commissioner could run that too?

  2. Paul Linge October 22, 2015 at 8:17 pm

    Chronic mismanagement from an inept political leadership and an abysmal senior management team. Between the two they are ripping through the fabric of the islands,
    I don’t think it is done with malice they are just absolutely bloody hopeless.

  3. OPDC October 22, 2015 at 7:07 pm

    First the TIC, then the airport and now our well respected fire and rescue service. Next it will be water and sewerage, the school, the sport hall, swimming pool and Park House. This council needs to retain as much as possible, run it efficiently and effectively and not throw its hand in. Exporting the cash will not keep it solvent.

    When it’s just the ‘one person and their dog council’ (OPDC) how will it be able to justify the already outrageous £500,000 senior management cost (yes, half a million £’s) and £107,000 councillor allowances I wonder? No doubt with the same ignorance it demonstrates now.

  4. Jeff Eastick October 22, 2015 at 5:31 pm

    Difficult to understand what logic was used in arriving at the decision to give up control of your local Fire and Rescue service , when the statements attributed to Steve Webster seem to suggest that Scilly currently enjoys a better safety regime than most of the rest of the UK, and is not running at a deficit , which most other local services seem to be, especially as Cornwall Council intend to fight to keep control of such services on the mainland.
    It would appear that the decision was taken without knowledge of all the facts , so why was this pushed through without more discussion and consultation with the people the Council purport to represent ?

  5. Ex IOS firefighter, Allan Hicks October 22, 2015 at 12:55 pm

    What an utter disgrace, in the past whenever the Council carried out local surveys, Fire was the only “council department” to have close to 100% support of the electorate. It also costs the Islands nothing to provide and puts money Into the Councils reserves. What is happening to the Councils thought processes.