Save Our Fire Service


Torbay Liberal Democrat Councillors campaigning against fire service cuts. From left to right: Steve Darling, Lee Howgate, Rick Heyse and Ian Dogget.


Thank you very much to everyone who has signed it.

We've submitted the petition to the Devon and Somerset Fire Service. Lee Howgate (Torbay Lib Dems Parliamentary Spokesman) has also submitted a letter (joint with Dr. Sarah Wollaston MP) to the fire chief, outlining their concerns and requesting a meeting.

You can read the full letter, in which Lee Howgate outlines the concerns of residents, below.

Dear Mr. Howell

I am writing on behalf of the people of Torbay to express my concerns in response to the fire
service cuts presented in the Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue Authority’s Safer Together

As a councillor leading on this issue, I have received overwhelming evidence from our
community about the level of concern these proposals have created. Alongside this letter, I will
also submit a petition signed by hundreds of local residents objecting to the proposed reforms. 
I have met with Dr. Sarah Wollaston MP, whose constituency includes part of the Torbay area,
and we feel these concerns are justified. We agree that all 6 options as proposed by the Devon
and Somerset Fire Authority in their consultation document ‘Safer Together’ should be rejected.
In short, we feel that any steps taken must not undermine the existing level of protection in the
bay and we are keen to explore through further discussions with the Fire Service how this can be
maintained within the current context as set by national government.

Briefly, our main concerns are:

1.  The proposals do not provide adequate detail for the improvements claimed, for example
there is an absence of information on how terms and conditions for operating a revised on-call
system would be improved, or how extra prevention and protection will be achieved.

 2.  The selection of data in the consultation is flawed and has an unrealistic assumption that all
assets will be available at all times, giving a false impression of improved outcomes that could
not be obtained in a real world context.

3.  It was made clear at the meeting of the Overview and Scrutiny Board in Torbay that
emergency response times in the bay would deteriorate and that the ten minute target for
response to incidents would not be met should these proposals succeed.  We believe this
reduction in the level of emergency response is unacceptable, and undermines the Fire
Authority’s case that the proposals are merely a reallocation of resources to provide more
efficient levels of service.  We believe missing the ten minute target will mean an increased
threat to life and property in Torbay and across South Devon.  Over 600,000 people will see a
slower response from the Fire and Rescue service at certain times of the day.

4.  We welcome the desire of the Fire and Rescue Authority to undertake more preventative
work and more enforcement action with businesses who are non-compliant with the
appropriate fire regulations.  We are not convinced, however, that this needs to be an either/or
situation.  Such work can and indeed is occurring within existing frameworks.

Given the level of concern about the proposals we would be grateful for a meeting with the
Chief Fire Officer to discuss what steps can be taken given the difficult financial constraints the
Authority finds itself in as a result of the need to make £8.4m of savings due to continuing
underfunding by national government.  We recognise the challenges this poses to the Authority
and would like to offer our full support in lobbying for a fairer funding package that would give
adequate scope for maintaining a first-class service of fire prevention and emergency rescue.

Lee Howgate
Overview and Scrutiny Co-Ordinator,
Torbay Council

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