Monday, 20 August 2007

Newquay Fire

With hoax Great White Sharks and an all too tragically real fire, Newquay's been in the national news this summer. But down here we've been talking about the Fire Service for a while now. The LibDem run County Council has a budget overrun of a million pounds, which is a result of the Government's decision to pay firemen more (quite rightly) but not give the Council any extra money to pay for this rise. This cost has to be covered so how do we want to do it? Put it directly on the council tax or lose full time jobs? The proposed plan was to reduce Falmouth and Camborne, the only two fire stations which have 24 hour full time staff, to retained firemen at night time. It was already a pretty unpopular plan, and now there's hell up.

But a couple of points need making.

Firstly the cuts haven't taken place yet, so they have no bearing on the tragedy in Newquay.

Secondly, this was the worst hotel fire in the UK for 32 years. Do people really want us to double expenditure so that every town has full time crews and the best equipment, and then wait another 30 years for it to be used. If it's about saving lives, cutting the speed limit to 20mph across Cornwall would be cheaper and very much more effective.

A lot of the problem is that we have such massive population jumps in the summer. Newquay has a winter population of 20,000, but a summer population of 100,000. How can our infrastructure cope without Government support? Is it fair to ask local residents, many of whom are not involved in the tourist industry, to pay for this extra cost?

And why am I, a Truro Councillor, making these points? Well despite Radio Cornwall appealing on the hour every hour for David Whalley, LibDem Leader of the Council, to come and answer listeners' questions, nobody from the County Council could or would come forward, leaving the opposition free to blame the LibDems for the tragedy.


Arwen Folkes said...

Very well said Rob. It's happened again - a wide open goal.

Anonymous said...

It is always going to be the same in a semi-rural holiday area. Here, the population is about 15,000 in winter and you could add a nought to that in summer. We still have the same and police and fire cover all year round, and no extra money from the Government to fund more anyway. It's deliberately used as a political issue by whatever government is in power at the time.