You will remember my post earlier this month about Councillors refusing to listen to concerns about WSFRS. The meeting Chair told me to put my questions in writing and assured me that they would be answered. Well surprise, surprise, they have not been.
I asked if County Councillors were aware that the average response time for incidents had increased, and that the availability of retained crews had got worse. I have had a reply, but it seems that Councillors are following the three wise (or in this case unwise) monkeys - ‘see no concerns, hear no concerns and speak no concerns’.
The reply said, “These are operational matters that members would expect to fall to the direction and control of the Chief Fire Officer. The Cabinet Member receives regular briefings on issues of significance or concern. Matters of direct interest to specific localities would be referred for information to the relevant member in accordance with the County Council’s protocol on local member notification.”
So it appears that increased response times and a 10% reduction in the average availability of RDS pumps in West Sussex, in just one year, are not considered ‘issues of significance or concern’. Neither, it seems, are they concerned that the reduction at East Wittering, in their area, is over 40%.
Other areas affected include Crawley where the drop over 5 years has been from 78% to just 34%, Midhurst’s 2nd pump from 87% to 61%, and Petworth’s 2nd from 76% to 51%. But it is alright, they have a plan, not to fix it of course, but to drop the availability to zero% by removing those fire engines.
This is not the fault of the firefighters at these stations, it is the fault of County Councillors who just bury their heads in the sand. If they are not going to properly monitor the services they provide, and not going to deal with poor performance, then what is the point of County Councillors?
With Cabinet Members receiving allowances that are well in excess of what many WSCC staff earn, it seems they are getting much more than they deserve. For the record, Lionel Barnard received £30,750 in allowances, plus £5,859 expenses last year. That is nearly twice what WSCC are paying some social care workers.