A LOCAL councillor is both relieved and frustrated over the news that Cornwall Council Cabinet has voted to U-turn on plans to close Cornwall FRS’ Critical Fire Control Centre.
Cornwall and Town Councillor, Andrew Long welcomed the news that a decision for a U-turn has been made, however expressed his frustration that the proposal was on the cards to begin with.
Cornwall Fire and Rescue Service had announced plans to scrap its entire control operation and potentially handing control to a centre outside of the Duchy on money-saving grounds last September.
Firefighter control staff at the call centre in Tolvaddon near Camborne handle calls from the public, provide safety guidance and deploy resources during incidents.
Firefighters campaigned hard against the proposed closure with the Fire Brigades Union (FBU) fire control members creating a detailed report highlighting the varied and essential nature of the work that they do.
Last week, the FBU won their campaign as the Cornwall Council Cabinet decided to uphold the recommendation and reverse plans to shut down the centre.
Cllr Long who publicly expressed his opposition to the moving of the control centre, said he was ‘very pleased’ to hear the news.
‘I’m glad the right decision has been made’, said Cllr Long.
‘I’m relieved, but also frustrated that it came to that in the first place. ‘I’m disappointed that the fire service had to protest something that was quite obvious, that it would be better for the community and saving lives if things were kept in Cornwall.
‘It concerned me that the pursuit of financial targets, for a time, overtook what was good for Cornwall.’
Campaigners feared that the move could’ve cost vital minutes and maybe lives during an emergency due to the unique Cornish town names and language.
Cllr Long expressed the move also would’ve been going against devolution.
‘True devolution means keeping things in the local community,’ said Cllr Long.
‘It means power resting as close to the local people as possible. This was an example of centralisation that the Conservative administration proposed, and it was only after the backlash from the fire service and the population of Cornwall that they had to think again.’
Relief has been felt across Cornwall and Gary Cotton, Fire Brigades Union brigade secretary for Cornwall said: ‘Fire and rescue control staff are vital to our service. They are the ones picking up fire calls from the public, identifying locations and mobilising resources.
‘Firefighters across Cornwall will be relieved that the council has finally recognised the value of the highly specialised skills and knowledge required, and the essential role that fire control plays in keeping the public safe.
‘This U-turn represents a victory for our members, and for the safety of the people of Cornwall. We should never have had to fight against these absurd plans, but we have shown that we can and must push back against dangerous decisions made in the name of cost cutting.’