I have not long been back home after a very long afternoon. I must really thank those Councillors who spoke for the motion to reject the fire service cuts, they did us proud. They were Councillors Michael Jones, Chris Oxlade, Lionel Parsons, Andy Petch, Ian Buckland, Sue Mullins, James Walsh, Nigel Dennis and Peter Lamb. I would also like to thank Tony Hicks for sitting with me through the more than two hours of other items until we got to the FRS cuts motion.
There wasn’t actually much of a debate as all the speakers, except the Cabinet Member and his Deputy, spoke in favour of the motion to reject the cuts. Lionel Barnard and Jim Rae were unable to defend the cuts and simply trotted out the same old lies. It was rather like someone covering their ears and repeating ‘can’t hear you’ every time someone tried to give them a reality check. Councillor Rae, in the absence of any real defence, also resorted to abuse of the proposer.
Not surprising I suppose, after the Leader of the Council was similarly abusive to the proposer of another motion the majority group did not like. It was quite incredible to hear her, during a motion on how the County Council is run, bring up child abuse in Rotherham, terrorism and Ebola. I really thought she was losing the plot, as did many of the Councillors.
I was particularly saddened to see again, in the Chief Fire Officer’s report on the motion, the falsehood that ‘the modelling and analysis does identify a slight increase of three fire deaths … over the next 100 years’. His technical report clearly shows 9 fire deaths and 46 special service fatalities. The three that he and Messrs. Barnard and Rae keep referring to are just the extra fire deaths in the home. They keep ignoring the 6 fire deaths in other buildings and the special service deaths.
Although the motion was lost, the final vote was perhaps better than may have been expected. 18 for, 28 against and 2 abstentions. The vote was a recorded one, so we will be able to see who the Councillors were who decided to put their party before the lives of people in West Sussex.