Fire station to close amid Devon and Somerset service cuts

Fire engine
Image caption A consultation took place in 2019 into proposed cuts at Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue Service

A fire station will close and another will move as part of cuts to fire and rescue services in Devon and Somerset.

The fire authority voted 23-2 in favour of closing Budleigh Salterton requiring officers to move to Exmouth.

The decision follows a consultation into money saving plans unveiled last year to cut or reduce fire services in the counties.

Eight stations were originally earmarked for closure, but plans were scaled back after community concerns.

According to the Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue Service, the cuts will save about £4m, with £2m being re-invested into "prevention and protection activity".

The Fire Brigades Union had demanded that the recommendations were rejected, because it said there was "much to be concerned by".

Image caption The Royal Clarence Hotel fire in Exeter in 2016 saw 54 of the service's engines involved

Recommendations to the Fire Authority would have seen the third fire engines from Bridgwater, Taunton, Torquay and Yeovil stations removed, but a proposal from Councillor Mark Healey gave them an 11th hour reprieve.

Instead they will be replaced with an "alternative vehicle" with smaller firefighting capabilities.

The second fire engines from Crediton, Lynton, Martock and Totnes will also be removed.

But Lynton's second fire appliance will be replaced with a new 4×4 vehicle and an alternative vehicle that can transport firefighters will be provided for the other three stations.

The Budleigh Salterton station is relatively small - generations of families have been retained as crew members, and are paged to respond to local emergencies.

The Devon and Somerset Fire Authority also voted to "relocate" the station at Topsham, near Exeter, to the headquarters two miles (3.2km) outside of the town.

The Topsham site is worth £285,000, but will not be sold without a further vote taking place.

Image copyright Google
Image caption Budleigh Salterton will be covered by the fire station in Exmouth

Currently, there are 85 fire stations, 121 fire engines and 2,000 members of staff across both counties.

When the original plans for cuts were announced in June last year, the fire service said it wanted to bring an outdated service into the 21st Century.

Fire call-outs in both areas had decreased 36% between 2008 and 2018, it added.

East Devon MP Simon Jupp said the decision to close Budleigh Salterton was "disappointing" and he had asked fro "urgent meeting" with fire chiefs to discuss it.

"I will continue to hold them to account to keep the people of east Devon safe," he said.

Image caption The cuts sparked protests when they were first announced in June 2019

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