Concern over consultation on Rotherham's future fire service

Neil CarbuttNeil Carbutt
Neil Carbutt
PUBLIC consultation over the future of Rotherham’s fire service comprised a single stall open for four hours - with just a few leaflets to give out.

South Yorkshire Fire Authority has raised the matter with officers after complaints about the drop-in session at Parkgate Shopping.

The consultation is about South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue’s risk management plan for 2017 to 2020.

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The last version has made headlines recently because it included the removal of Rotherham station’s second night-time engine.

Neil Carbutt, South Yorkshire secretary of the Fire Brigades Union, said: “The consultation in Rotherham in terms of drop-in sessions has now finished. It was a half-day event, with six leaflets.”

Mr Carbutt said the FBU was told the stand would be outside Mothercare to maximise footfall, but he found it around the corner near Poundland.

“It didn’t give any indication as to the proposals on that table or that it was a drop-in session to gather feedback on proposals for fire cover in Rotherham,” he added. 

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“If that’s the standard of consultation over a vitally important public service, then I’m concerned.”

Cllr Alan Atkin, vice chairman of the fire authority, admitted a colleague had also reported that the consultation had been inadequate.

He added: “I have raised that with our officers, saying that we think the positioning wasn’t good. I’m waiting for some feedback on that.

“But there is nothing in this IRMP (integrated risk management plan) that is anything like the last one. There’s very little in it, that’s why we only had a six-week period of consultation.

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“We had extensive consultation four years ago. Everything was agreed. All we are doing now is enacting that part of the last IRMP.”

A seminar was held by the fire authority to update Rotherham borough councillors last Tuesday morning.

After, UKIP opposition group leader Cllr Allen Cowles said: “I raised the issue of the stall and they suggested the stall had been moved due to the weather. 

“They did say it had been posted in the Yorkshire Post, which is handy if you live in Leeds, but I do not know anyone who reads the Yorkshire Post.”

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Cllr Cowles said the decision to cut the second engine should be revisited because the fire service showed a financial surplus until 2021.

He added: “The proposed model is unproven. Barnsley have been trying unsuccessfully to implement this model for 18 months.

“Why increase the precept if it is not guaranteed to go to frontline services? This needs to be reviewed annually.

“We need a proper consultation. People should attend council meetings and protest or speak to their local councillor.”