Thursday, 30 October 2014

BBC lunchtime coverage audio

I have managed to upload the audio from the lunchtime BBC coverage to YouTube

BBC South News coverage

I have emailed the BBC as they are still falling for the consultation deception about 'Horsham's 3rd fire engine moving to Littlehampton'. Of course it is actually one of the five being cut.

Interesting that all of the people they interviewed in Midhurst said the cuts were wrong. As one lady said 'they take no notice of what we say, and they just do it anyway'.

WSFRS had fed them the number of times the 2nd at Midhurst turned out this year, but not how many times it was needed. That of course is higher and the failure to get a crew on occasions directly results from their deliberate under crewing (establishment 15, just 3 more than a 1 pump station) and the new RDS contracts.

Lee Neale had the gall to mention the predictive data and then claim people would be safe. Of course he did not mention the additional and unnecessary death every other year and the £80,000+ of additional and unnecessary property damage that are predicted.

He also did not mention that fire deaths were falling in the UK, but that they have risen every year in West Sussex since he and Sean Ruth joined WSFRS in 2009! He mentioned the changes being based on professional judgement, so the increase in fire deaths must just be a coincidence then I suppose.

Stop the cuts in the news

Anyone in WSFRS who is feeling frustrated by being told not to comment publicly, you can always use the comments section of the online versions of local newspapers. 

Any WSCC or WSFRS story can be used to get your views across. You just have to register and you can make up your own username, so only the newspaper will know who you are. 

Keep it legal and your identity will remain safe. Here is my latest in the West Sussex County Times (scroll down on that page for the comments).

Well done to Dave West for a great letter in this week's Chichester, Midhurst & Petworth, and Bognor Regis Observers. BBC should be filming in Midhurst today, so watch BBC South Today. Not sure when it will be on, but we might even see Dave in action.

Wednesday, 29 October 2014

Did your County Councillor vote for the cuts?

The 28 Councillors who voted FOR the cuts were:

Lionel Barnard (Henfield), Liz Bennett (East Grinstead Meridian), Michael Brown (Fernhurst), Richard Burrett (Pound Hill & Worth), Peter Catchpole (Holbrook), Michael Cloake (Worthing Pier), Janet Duncton (Petworth), Margaret Evans (Chichester South), Peter Evans (East Preston & Ferring), Christine Field (Lindfield & High Weald), Louise Goldsmith (Chichester West), Paul High (Worthing West), Jeremy Hunt (Chichester North), Amanda Jupp (Billingshurst), Debbie Kennard (Shoreham), Bob Lanzer (Maidenbower), Janet Mockridge (Southwick), Pieter Montyn (The Witterings), Roger Oakley (Worthing East), Simon Oakley (Chichester East), John O’Brien (East Grinstead South & Ashurst Wood), Ashvin Patel (Bognor Regis West & Aldwick), Nigel Peters (Arundel & Wick), Jim Rae (Roffey), John  Rogers (Cissbury), Bryan Turner (Broadwater), Steve Waight (Goring), Brad Watson (Southwater & Nuthurst).

The 17 Councillors who voted against the cuts were:

Ian Buckland (Littlehampton Town), Mick Clark (Saltings), Michael Glennon (Lancing), Trixie Hall (Durrington & Salvington), Graham Jones (Felpham), Michael Jones (Southgate & Crawley Central), Peter Lamb (Northgate & Three Bridges), Sue Mullins (Gossops Green & Ifield East), Chris Oxlade (Bewbush & Ifield West), Lionel Parsons (Sompting & North Lancing), Andy Petch (Hassocks & Victoria), Ann Rapnik (Bersted), Robin Rogers (Northbrook), David Sheldon (Horsham Tanbridge & Broadbridge Heath), Brenda Smith (Langley Green & West), Tony Sutcliffe (Nyetimber), James Walsh (Littlehampton East).

The 2 Councillors who abstained were:

Bill Acraman (Worth Forest) and Nigel Dennis (Horsham Hurst).


The other 24 Councillors were either not at the meeting or left before this vote.

Saturday, 25 October 2014

The National Perspective

Saw my MP yesterday and he said he would speak to the Fire Minister. I know that they will try and say this is a local matter, but there are national implications. 

As I mentioned to him national resilience and response to catastrophic incidents depends on local FRS resources. Cutting those resources seriously weakens the response to such incidents. It is Ministers that end up in the firing line when things go wrong, so it is in their interest to make sure they don't. 

I would urge everyone to keep meeting and writing to their MPs and Councillors to press home the dangers of these cuts. Venting our feelings is all well and good, but we all need to keep the pressure up. It is not a lost cause, but if people stop contacting them, they will just think the problem has gone away. 

Thursday, 23 October 2014

Letter sent to all County Councillors tonight

Dear Councillors,

I am sure that many of you will have been disappointed by the misleading statements and false claims made about the Fire & Rescue Service proposals at the County Council meeting last week.

I have identified 20 of the most serious ones and provided an explanation of why they were misleading or false below. The facts shown are from the consultation supporting documents and other West Sussex Fire & Rescue Service or Department for Communities and Local Government documents.

Please review them and, if anyone believes this information is inaccurate, please let me have any evidence to support that belief. There has been far too much speculation, wishful thinking and misdirection during this process, it is time for the plain, simple truth.

Yours sincerely,

Tony Morris

1. There will only be 3 extra deaths in 100 years, and no secret was made of the extra deaths.

This is the most disgraceful cover up and deception. The public consultation document did not mention a single extra death. It is only in the technical document that it says there will be 3 extra fire deaths in the home in 100 years. However, figures on the very last page reveal that there will also be 6 extra fire deaths in other buildings and 46 extra deaths in non-fire incidents. 3 + 6 + 46 = 55 extra deaths resulting from the changes. The Chief Fire Officer’s report to the meeting also inexplicably ignored the non-fire deaths and just said there would be 3 extra fire deaths, when in fact it is 3 + 6, which makes 9 extra fire deaths. This detail has been hidden and, despite now being exposed, the deceit continues.

2. Consultation widely available.

There is no evidence that more than a very small number of West Sussex residents were aware of the consultation. Those who did know were not told the truth. The consultation document suggested these savings could be achieved without affecting performance, which is not true. Even if people took the trouble to read through the 280 pages of supporting documents they would not have seen the true effects and the total number of extra deaths, unless they also did some sums.

3. Forums held and presentations given.

Information about the real effects was withheld at these meetings and misleading and false information was given. For example, at the Chichester South CLC meeting, they were told that the number of fire engines was not being reduced, when in fact five are being cut.

4. The scrutiny processes were rigorous.

Processes took place, but as Councillor Rae said they are not professional firefighters. They had to rely on the Chief Fire Officer’s proposals, which had to fit the reduced budget. There was no one with the necessary professional expertise to scrutinise his suggestions, to offer alternatives, or to identify the full effects. Since the proposals became public there has been overwhelming professional opinion confirming that the proposals will see firefighters and the public exposed to a much greater risk.

5. Mr Barnard does not recognise significant public concern.

He chooses not to recognise that there is significant concern amongst those who understand the real effects of these cuts. The only people not concerned are those who are blissfully unaware of the increased danger they will be in as a result of longer response times for many incidents.

6. The service is changing and needs to reflect a modern approach.

The service already has a modern approach and it is disrespectful to the principal officers to suggest otherwise. Reducing fire crews and fire engines is not modernisation, it simply reduces the ability of the service to meet demand, especially during increasingly frequent periods of high demand. There is simply no justification for reducing resources to the lowest level since the service was formed in 1948, especially when there are over three times as many calls, more complex incidents, and additional duties have been placed on the service.

7. Prevention is at the heart of everything the Fire & Rescue Service does.

Yet the number of fire safety audits has fallen from over 3,000 in 2010-11 to less than 1,400 in 2012-13. Worryingly 34% of the latest inspections also found premises to be unsatisfactory. Mr Barnard’s latest cuts will, from just one proposal alone, cut prevention work by more than 5,000 hours a year (Proposal 5).

8. The Chief Fire Officer would not put the public or his personnel at risk. This is professionals redesigning their professional service.

This shows that Councillors Rae and Barnard do not understand risk. The Chief Fire Officer necessarily puts firefighters at risk every day, and the public are also at risk every day. His job is to reduce the risk as much as possible, but his ability to do so is dependent on support and funding from the County Council. Better funding means more prevention and improved response times, which means more lives and property saved. Reduced funding means less prevention and longer response times, which means more lives lost and more property destroyed. Firefighter safety depends on their fire engines being fully crewed and supporting fire engines arriving quickly. The public and Firefighters will clearly be at greater risk if these cuts go ahead. It is not being professionally redesigned to meet need, just to fit an inadequate budget.

9. There was no ‘call in’.

This is a complete red herring, as the call in process cannot be used to oppose a decision.

10. Several references were made to the advantages of the 4x4 vehicles. Easier to get two people there on a 4x4 than it is to wait until you fill a fire engine.

Mr Barnard, despite not being a professional firefighter, suggests that a small 4x4 vehicle is an adequate replacement for a full sized, properly equipped and crewed fire appliance. It may be easier to get two people there on a 4x4, but that is of no use when you need a full crew and the equipment on a fire engine. There may be some incidents where only the crew is required from a second fire engine, but that is not known when the call is received. The only responsible approach is to send two proper fire engines to building fires. Failure to do so will see a repeat of the tragic incident in Wales where two Retained Firefighters lost their lives. National guidance followed that said two fire engines with an absolute minimum of 9 firefighters must be sent to all house fires. Removing fire engines and reducing crews will result in unsafe working practices. No upgrade of the 4x4s is going to see them carry the extra water, hose, ladders, or the rescue and other equipment that is often required.

11. Unsubstantiated and unfounded scaremongering.

A disgraceful slur from Mr Rae, as there is every good reason for residents and firefighters to be concerned. The evidence to support that concern is to be found in the official documentation. Hundreds of professional firefighters have confirmed there is good reason to be concerned. Serving firefighters have done so through their union representatives, as they have been told not to speak publicly, and many retired firefighters have also spoken out about the dangers.

12. Councillor Rae complained about only hearing, ‘Crawley, Crawley’.

Councillor Jones actually said that the cuts will affect all areas, but there is good reason for Crawley residents to be concerned. They will be left with the worst fire cover in the County, despite them having the most incidents of any station area each year (1,483 last year), and having the busiest fire station in the County, responding to an annual average of over 2,100 calls. Yet they will have only two fire engines, the same as Littlehampton which only had 430 incidents in their area last year and on average they respond to just 830 calls per year.

13. Mr Rae quoted statistics for the number of mobilisations made by the 2nd and 3rd fire engines that are being removed.

Mr Rae’s deception continued, as he only spoke about actual mobilisations, not how often they were actually needed. The ongoing failure of West Sussex County Council to ensure adequate numbers of Retained Firefighters means that all too often, when these fire engines have been needed, there are not enough to crew them. Fire engines from stations further away have to be used, which then reduces the fire cover in that area. The real demand for these second and third fire engines has been hidden. Mr Rae also conveniently forgets that on the occasions they have responded, they have saved lives and property. Having these fire engines available between 35% and 60% of the time is not good, but instead of improving the situation, Mr Rae intends to make them unavailable 100% of the time.

14. Mr Barnard referred to Gatwick’s fire service. He also said that Gatwick Fire Authority made no objection.

There is no Gatwick Fire Authority. The Fire Authority responsible for Gatwick Airport is West Sussex County Council. Gatwick Airport is only responsible for immediate response to aircraft accidents and for having an emergency plan. The County Council has a legal duty to provide fire and rescue services to the airport for all incidents, and to provide the bulk of fire and rescue service resources as part of the Airport’s emergency plan. Up until 2010 there were 5 West Sussex fire engines close to the airport to support that plan. Now there will be just 2. Gatwick Airport answers to its shareholders and they need all the support they can get for their second runway proposal. They are not going to risk upsetting WSCC by objecting to these cuts. Especially as it will be WSCC who will have to explain an inadequate and slow response to the Airport at a public inquiry or inquest. An aircraft accident will put hundreds of lives in jeopardy. The number who survive will initially depend on luck, but will then depend on how quickly sufficient numbers of West Sussex Firefighters arrive. Removing resources and increasing response times to such a high risk location is grossly negligent.

15. There is a constant review and if new homes are built they will get the fire cover they need.

The suggestion that fire cover will be increased to protect new developments is a nonsense. Thousands of new homes have been built since 1974, yet the number of fire stations has not been increased. Instead they have been cut from 28 to 25 (effectively 24, as Horley no longer has any fire engines). No extra money has been set aside to provide fire cover for new homes. The only fire cover new homes will get is that which is already available from an increasingly over worked and under resourced service.

16. There has been a problem with Retained recruiting for many years.

It is quite disgraceful that Mr Barnard has been aware of this serious problem since 2003, but has done nothing to remedy it. In fact he has taken advantage of it by saying that, as crews are often unavailable, he will take their fire engines away. He has also imposed limits on the number of Retained Firefighters at stations that fall well below the number necessary to crew all their appliances round the clock. Mr Barnard's only reference to any action taken to address this crisis was that there is a recruiting poster near his home. It is his neglect that has resulted in nearly half the County’s fire engines being unavailable on some days. Such a shocking situation should be the subject of an urgent investigation. All the factors that contribute to this problem must be thoroughly investigated and workable solutions researched and implemented.

17. People will not be satisfied unless there is a fire engine at the end of every street.

This appears to be Mr Barnard’s fanciful notion, as no one has ever suggested there are demands for any such nonsense. Public expectations are quite moderate. They want no more than the level of resources that they have always had. Mr Barnard is failing the public and spuriously suggesting it is their expectations that are unreasonable.

18. The service is changing away from house fires.

Not true, as house fires in West Sussex during the last 12 years have fluctuated between 491 and 654 (530 in 2012-13). Very similar to the 1980s when they fluctuated between 502 and 599.

19. Risk is being reduced. Cars and roads are improving all the time.

As far as fires are concerned, the risk is increasing in West Sussex with fire deaths going up every year since 2008-09, despite the national figures going down. This should also be subject to an urgent investigation. Some old risks may reduce, but they are replaced with new ones. One of the latest has been electronic cigarettes and their chargers. The situation with road traffic collisions (RTCs) has been blurred, as not all attendances at RTCs are recorded. For some bizarre reason, if crews attend a RTC and report no action taken, it is erroneously recorded as a false alarm. National reports also indicate that the recession has seen a reduction in traffic and they expect that, as the economy picks up, traffic will increase and so will the number of crashes. The number of RTCs attended is still high, even with the manipulation of figures to suggest that the number is lower.

20. You will find this more than fair and adequate for a county of this size.


The size of the County has not changed since 1974, but the population has increased by 23%. Up until 2010 adequate cover was rightly considered by Councillors and professional Chief Fire Officers to be 28 fire stations with 46 fire engines and crews. It is reckless nonsense to suggest that with a larger population, which is going to continue to grow, just 24 fire stations with 35 fire engines and crews is adequate or fair.

Tuesday, 21 October 2014

Monday, 20 October 2014

See the tragedy for yourselves

Watch and hear the shameful lies from Councillors Lionel Barnard and Jim Rae. Scroll down the Timeline and click on 04:44:21 

West Sussex Council’s Death Sentence Decision [Press Release]

A TRAGIC COMEDY OF ERRORS

Were it not so shocking, Friday’s County Council debate on fire service cuts would have been comic.

Most people, when adding 3 + 6 + 46, end up with 55, but not Councillors Lionel Barnard and Jim Rae. They think 3 + 6 + 46 = 3. These are the figures from their own technical report on the estimated number of extra deaths if the cuts go ahead and it is 55, not 3! Even the Chief Fire Officer appears unable to add up. In his Council report he only refers to fire deaths, but he adds 3 (fire deaths in the home) to 6 (other fire deaths) and also comes up with a total of 3. Why he got that wrong and ignored the extra deaths in non-fire emergencies is unclear.

It should be of great concern to everyone that people who are responsible for millions of pounds of public money cannot do sums that primary school pupils can manage.

Cllr. Rae had no defence for the cuts, so he repeated false and misleading figures and resorted to abuse. He even stupidly criticised Cllr. Michael Jones for speaking on behalf of the people he represents in Crawley. People who will shortly have the worst fire protection in the County, despite having the most incidents.

He also tried to pass the buck to the Chief and Deputy Chief Fire Officers. They have no choice but to work to Cllr. Barnard’s instructions, within his inadequate budget and with the damaging effects of previous cuts and neglect. Hundreds of West Sussex firefighters, who will have to risk their lives with inadequate resources, face public anger for poor response times, and carry the bodies out, have been ignored. They know these cuts will increase the risk to themselves and the public.

Cllr. Rae claimed no secrecy, but the consultation document said nothing about extra deaths, and the technical document only mentioned 3 extra deaths in the home. The other 52 deaths were hidden in a table of figures that had to be calculated to understand them. Something he clearly failed to do.

Cllr. Barnard also misled Councillors. He referred to a non-existent fire authority at Gatwick, and clearly showed he does not understand his responsibilities. The Airport Fire Service is only responsible for initial actions at an aircraft accident. The legal responsibility for providing an adequate response to all incidents at Gatwick is his, and he is failing in that duty.

‘Prevention is at the heart of everything’ proclaims Cllr Barnard, yet the number of fire safety audits has fallen from over 3,000 in 2010-11 to less than 1,400 in 2012-13. Worryingly 34% of the premises inspected were found to be unsatisfactory. His latest cuts will further reduce prevention work by at least 5,000 hours a year.

He says he has known about Retained Firefighter recruiting problems since 2003. So what has he done about this serious problem? Sadly, all he mentioned was a recruiting sign at the end of the road near his home. Perhaps his prevention initiative will be to add another sign, ‘Don’t have fires’.

He did not mention that he has deliberately restricted the maximum number of Retained Firefighters to a level that makes it impossible to crew all their fire engines 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. He also did not mention that new contracts he introduced to ‘improve’ availability have actually made the situation much worse.

He claimed the ‘service is changing away from house fires’, which is not true. House fires in West Sussex have fluctuated between 491 and 654 for the last 12 years and there were 530 in 2012-13. Very similar to the 1980s when they fluctuated between 502 and 599.

He summed up his callous disregard for the public by saying that he would make the cuts, even if he did not have to save money. Sacrificing the lives of West Sussex residents for no reason is an absolute disgrace.

It was very noticeable that Conservative Councillors were very uncomfortable about being required to support these cuts. None of them spoke in support of Cllr. Rae, who prepared these savage cuts, and Cllr. Barnard who approved them.

The only other Conservative Councillor who spoke on the motion said, “Cutting other County Council Services may have caused some people inconvenience, hardship, anger and distress, but since my involvement these will be the first that will actually cost lives.” Councillor Andy Petch deserves high praise for putting public safety before party politics.

Labour, Liberal Democrat and UKIP Councillors were the only other honourable Councillors who roundly condemned these dangerous cuts. Many Conservative Councillors left before this critical vote.

Councillors Lionel Barnard and Jim Rae have deceived the Council and the public, embarked on reckless cuts, and reduced public and firefighter safety. They have been aided and abetted by just 26 of their colleagues who have put party interest before public safety. It is wholly undemocratic that, based on inaccuracies and deceit, these cuts have been approved by just 28 out of 71 Councillors.


Friday 17th October 2014 will be remembered as the darkest and most shameful day in West Sussex County Council’s history.

Friday, 17 October 2014

Excellent case made to reject the cuts, but a shameful decision!

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 LambI 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.

What were the County Councillors who reviewed West Sussex Fire & Rescue Service really told?

Well today is the day we find out which of our County Councillors care about public safety, and which of them are prepared to sacrifice the lives of their electors. My latest email to them was:
What were the County Councillors who reviewed West Sussex Fire & Rescue Service really told?
20 questions that need to be answered

Were they told that:

1. Fire deaths have fallen in England, but risen in West Sussex every year since 2008-09.

2. The reduction in the number of incidents in West Sussex is only half that achieved across England.

3. Crawley has the most incidents of any station in West Sussex and that, following previous cuts, the number of deaths in their response area is increasing.

4. Midhurst, Petworth and Storrington had their establishment cut below that necessary to crew their fire engines at all times.

5. The Chief Fire Officer’s failure to address recruiting and retention of Retained Firefighters has resulted in nearly half the county’s fire engines being unavailable at times.

6. The risk assessment used is designed for assessing the risk to workers in the workplace, not the risk to the community from natural and man-made threats.

7. Using only three years historical data to determine critical fire risk is inadequate and unreliable.

8. That the average cost of providing the Fire & Rescue Service in the UK is £50 per person per year, but only £34 per person in West Sussex.

9. That Government research has shown that a one minute increase in average response times will cost the country 78 extra deaths and £85 million more property damage each year.

10. That despite financial restraint and no business case, the Chief Fire Officer is upgrading officer transport from small family cars to more expensive and more polluting 4x4s.

Were they told that the changes will:

11. Cost one extra life every two years, and at least 55 in the next one hundred years.

12. Cost 11 lives each in the Midhurst and Petworth areas for a saving of only £21,000.

13. Increase many response times, which will expose the public and firefighters to greater risk.

14. See fire engines travelling further to incidents and spending more time away from the areas they are supposed to protect.

15. Increase the number of times crews of only four are deployed, which will mean they cannot send crews in to a building wearing breathing apparatus until another crew arrives.

16. Reduce prevention work by at least 5,000 hours each year.

17. Not improve flexibility at Midhurst, Petworth and Storrington in respect of their 4x4s, but removing their second fire engines will significantly reduce flexibility.

18. See Crawley with the worst resource to workload ratio in the County.


19. Cut fire engines by a total of  24%, even though the number of incidents last year was two to three times more than in many previous years.

20. Bring West Sussex Fire & Rescue Service in to disrepute and increase the likelihood of litigation, including the risk of corporate manslaughter charges.
  
If they were not told, then they were misled.
If they were told, then they are being reckless.
In either case other County Councillors should stop these dangerous cuts

Tuesday, 14 October 2014

Email your County Councillor before Friday

Not too late to email your County Councillors (or all of them) with your views. Addresses here.

Or email all of those that need convincing these cuts are unnecessary and dangerous:

bill.acraman@westsussex.gov.uk, patricia.arculus@westsussex.gov.uk, david.barling@westsussex.gov.uk, lionel.barnard@westsussex.gov.uk, andrew.barrett-miles@westsussex.gov.uk, liz.bennett@westsussex.gov.uk, pete.bradbury@westsussex.gov.uk, michael.brown@westsussex.gov.uk, heidi.brunsdon@westsussex.gov.uk, richard.burrett@westsussex.gov.uk, peter.catchpole@westsussex.gov.uk, philip.circus@westsussex.gov.uk, mick.clark@westsussex.gov.uk, michael.cloake@westsussex.gov.uk, duncan.crow@westsussex.gov.uk, janet.duncton@westsussex.gov.uk, margaret.evans@westsussex.gov.uk, peter.evans@westsussex.gov.uk, christine.field@westsussex.gov.uk, michael.glennon@westsussex.gov.uk, louise.goldsmith@westsussex.gov.uk, peter.griffiths@westsussex.gov.uk, trixie.hall@westsussex.gov.uk, paul.high@westsussex.gov.uk, stephen.hillier@westsussex.gov.uk, jeremy.hunt@westsussex.gov.uk, sandra.james@westsussex.gov.uk, anne.jones@westsussex.gov.uk, graham.jones@westsussex.gov.uk, amanda.jupp@westsussex.gov.uk, debbie.kennard@westsussex.gov.uk, liz.kitchen@westsussex.gov.uk, bob.lanzer@westsussex.gov.uk, gordon.mcara@westsussex.gov.uk, peter.metcalfe@westsussex.gov.uk, janet.mockridge@westsussex.gov.uk, pieter.montyn@westsussex.gov.uk, roger.oakley@westsussex.gov.uk, simon.oakley@westsussex.gov.uk, john.o'brien@westsussex.gov.uk, lionel.parsons@westsussex.gov.uk, ashvin.patel@westsussex.gov.uk, andy.petch@westsussex.gov.uk, nigel.peters@westsussex.gov.uk, joan.phillips@westsussex.gov.uk, jim.rae@westsussex.gov.uk, ann.rapnik@westsussex.gov.uk, john.rogers@westsussex.gov.uk, 
david.sheldon@westsussex.gov.uk, bernard.smith@westsussex.gov.uk, brenda.smith@westsussex.gov.uk, tony.sutcliffe@westsussex.gov.uk, bryan.turner@westsussex.gov.uk, graham.tyler@westsussex.gov.uk, deborah.urquhart@westsussex.gov.uk, steve.waight@westsussex.gov.uk, brad.watson@westsussex.gov.uk, derek.whittington@westsussex.gov.uk, sujan.wickremaratchi@westsussex.gov.uk

County Council Fire Cuts Debate 17 October

It would be very helpful if people could show their support for Michael Jones, who is proposing the motion to abandon the cuts, by going along to the public gallery at the full County Council meeting on Friday (17th) afternoon. I will be going and it would be good to see others there.
Please note that the meeting is at County Hall North, Chart Way, Horsham, RH12 1XH. The afternoon session starts at 2:15.
You may see from the agenda that tickets are required, but I have checked and that only applies to the morning session, when fracking is on the agenda. It would be helpful if you can let me know if you are able to attend.

It should be an interesting debate and an opportunity to see who cares, and who does not care about public safety.

Monday, 13 October 2014

WEST SUSSEX FIRE CUTS WILL COST OVER 55 LIVES

On Friday, County Councillors will be debating cuts that are based on misleading information.

No additional deaths were mentioned in the consultation document. Even the technical report, only admitted to ‘3 extra dwelling fire fatalities in 100 years’, but other deaths are hidden in the statistics. The Cost Benefit analysis reveals that the total number of additional deaths will be 55. The figures below are taken from that document. The calculations were omitted from the document, so they have been added.

Fire appliance Deployment Strategy
Dwelling
Fatalities
Other Building Fatalities
Special Service Fatalities
(eg road crashes)
Base Case
3.873878
2.150886
47.700663
Total FFR Proposal
3.901706
2.206813
48.163136
Increase for one year
0.027828
0.055927
0.462473
Increase for 100 years
2.7828
5.5927
46.2473

That is a grand total of 55 extra deaths. The cuts at Midhurst and Petworth will only save about £21,000 each, but these alone will account for 22 of those deaths.

The final count may well be more, as extra deaths resulting from the reductions in wholetime crewing have not been calculated, and the fatality figures used in this and the previous technical document were, with one exception, inaccurate.

Instead of cutting the service, the County Council should be investigating why, when fire deaths are falling in England, they are rising in West Sussex. Between 2008-09 and 2012-13 there was an 11% drop in fire deaths in England (323 down to 289), but a 600% increase in West Sussex (1 up to 7).

The Chief Fire Officer’s claims that the number of incidents is falling in line with national trends is also misleading. There has been a 27% drop across England (717,805 to 521,222) in the same period, but West Sussex has only seen a 14% drop (11,047 to 9,504). The reduction for fires is also poor, down 38% for England (249,237 to 154,433), but only 20% for West Sussex (2,675 to 2,148).


No one who has seen through the false claims in the consultation document has supported the proposals. Not mentioned in that document, or at the forums, were the real effects - more loss of life, more property damage, longer response times, poorer performance, loss of flexibility, less effective crewing, and failing to match risk and performance. The consultation was a disgraceful sham.

Much has been claimed about moving from ‘just response’ to ‘more prevention’. These hollow claims are without substance and are made every time there are cuts. In 2003 the then Chief Fire Officer said they would be “changing the service emphasis from one of intervention to one of protection and prevention”. Yet deaths are now increasing and West Sussex is lagging well behind the rest of England.

Another illusion is that ‘emergency response services must reflect changing demands’. NOT TRUE, the number of calls fluctuate for a variety of reasons from year to year. Looking at change over 30 years, fires are about the same (down just 1%), but total incidents have increased by 45%, and non-fire emergencies have increased by 78%. Despite these increases, the proposals will see fire engines cut by a total of 24%. Those with more experience know that there is no changing demand that justifies fewer resources. It does not matter if it is a fire, road crash, chemical leak or flooding, they all require one or more fully equipped and fully crewed fire engines as quickly as possible.

Another false claim is that the Crawley cuts will mean “resources more proportionate to risk and performance”. NOT TRUE, Crawley is not being properly protected. 15% of all West Sussex incidents are in Crawley’s area, yet they will only have 6% of the county’s fire engines (cut from 11%). Worthing, which has fewer incidents, will have 9% of the county’s fire engines. To make matters worse, when Crawley’s two appliances are at a call, the nearest fire engine to reinforce them, or to attend second calls will be over 5 miles away. By contrast Worthing, with three fire engines, has reinforcements available within just 3 miles, and another about 5 miles away.

County Councillors have a duty to protect the people of West Sussex. They should reject these proposals and hold an inquiry in to why we have been deceived.

Saturday, 11 October 2014

Latest news links

Now we have a County Councillor shamelessly claiming that service reductions for 2015/16 "seemed unlikely to be the case here in West Sussex". Is he mad or just detached from reality?

Fortunately some County Councillors are still trying to get the truth across, as you can see from the Crawley & Horley Observer link. I have added comments to both, so scroll down if you want to see them.

http://www.chichester.co.uk/news/local/124m-to-be-shaved-off-west-sussex-budget-1-6348080

http://www.crawleyobserver.co.uk/news/local/crawley-councillor-says-fire-cuts-fight-is-not-over-1-6345044

Friday, 10 October 2014

600% Increase in Fire Deaths in West Sussex

Well it just gets worse. During the 'consultation', the Chief Fire Officer made various claims including, "fire services have significantly reduced the number of people killed in fires". Well, not in West Sussex! Between 2008-09 and 2012-13 there was an 11% drop in fire deaths in England, but a 600% increase in West Sussex.

“In the last five years we have reduced the levels of risk considerably across the county.” I very much doubt the friends and relatives of the 20 people who died in fires during those five years would agree. These graphs tell a very worrying story.




Thursday, 9 October 2014

West Sussex Fire Deaths Deceit

More deceit comes to light. The national fire statistics show that the figures for West Sussex fire deaths in the latest and the previous consultations were, apart from 2008-09, all lower than the actual figures. The error for the year immediately preceding each consultation may be forgiven, as they were estimates, but showing a lower figure for the other years is unacceptable. 

Did things improve last year? No, the national statistics show the estimate for last year as 7 deaths. At best this is just as bad as last year, which was the worst for 8 years. At its worst  the actual figure will be higher, which means the rise in deaths continue in West Sussex. This conflicts with the national trend, which is downward. So much for their claims that they are reducing risk!



Friday, 3 October 2014

West Sussex Labour councillors push county fire service cuts decision to full council debate


Labour county councillors are challenging Tory-controlled West Sussex County Council over its decision to further cut the Fire and Rescue service in the county, by putting forward a motion for debate at the next Full Council calling on the cuts to be abandoned.  Instead of the decision being made by only one councillor, all councillors will have to vote on whether they support the cuts.

Labour councillors have stepped up the pressure on the council because of public concern and objections from some firefighters that the cuts are likely to put residents and fire crews at increased risk.

The Cabinet Member for Residents' Services Lionel Barnard (Con, Henfield) approved a decision last week on behalf of the county council to make further cuts to West Sussex Fire and Rescue Services.

  • The Tory controlled county council had announced that it intends to implement a further £1.6 million of cuts this year on top of £2.5 million already cut in 2012;

  • This will include four fire engines (in Crawley, Midhurst, Storrington and Petworth) and 18 firefighters being lost, with an overall reduction of 37 staff in the Service overall;

  • Horsham fire station will also lose one of its fire engines, as the appliance is being permanently moved to Littlehampton and not being replaced.  Crawley is losing up to seven firefighters and all ten of its retained firefighters.  This has caused concern that the north of the county will be left particularly exposed, as there will only then be guaranteed night time cover from Horsham and Crawley stations, and

  • The previous cuts in 2012 by West Sussex had already seen the closure of fire stations at Bosham, Keymer and Findon, the loss of 6 fire engines, a reduction of approximately 50 personnel in the number of officers available to respond to Incidents and a major reduction in support staff who provide key support to the front line service.

Proposer of the motion to council, Labour County Councillor Michael Jones (Southgate and Crawley Central) said:

"The fight is not yet over.  If the West Sussex Tories want to push ahead with this worrying decision, I believe they must show they have the support of a majority of the entire council, not just one man, or a dozen councillors on a scrutiny committee.  The leadership has not listened to reason on this subject, only listening to the parts of the consultation they wanted to hear.

"The county has already lost significant numbers of firefighters.  Any further reduction to staffing or operational capabilities in West Sussex Fire and Rescue is in danger of putting both the public and firefighters at risk.  It cannot afford to lose any more."



The resolution proposed by Cllr Jones and seconded by Cllr Peter Lamb (Northgate and Three Bridges) states:

"This council recognises the significant public concern and opposition to the recent decision by the Cabinet Member for Residents' Services to implement £1.6 million of cuts to West Sussex Fire and Rescue Services (WSFRS).

This council believes that these cuts will increase risks to safety both to members of the public and firefighters right across West Sussex, and requests the Cabinet Member abandons the process, and instead retains WSFRS at its current capacity and levels of resilience.


The council requests the Cabinet pays for this, and also the plan to make Littlehampton a 24-hour immediate response fire station, by making use of part of the millions of pounds in revenue available from budget underspends made this year across all departments of the county council."

Thursday, 2 October 2014

Protests continue

Good to see in the "Midhurst & Petworth Observer" that Midhurst Town Council is calling for a full County Council debate on the cuts. Also good to see four letters condemning the cuts. 

Unfortunately there is one letter from Petworth's County Councillor that continues the myth, "the service will actually be improved". I don't know if she is deluded or deceived, but she is emphatically wrong. With judgement like that many of our County Councillors need to be very careful, as con men are likely to see them as easy prey.