THE GRAND OLD DUKE OF YORK

3 December 2007

Listen. Can you hear the sound of feet marching backwards? Or is it forwards?

Earlier this year there were county council proposals on the grounds of lack of money to end 24 hour cover from the fire stations at Camborne and Falmouth, the only fulltime stations in Cornwall, and provide only daytime cover.

There have been widespread protests from people here, the Labour and Conservative parties in Cornwall, and firefighters; there have been demonstrations and a newspaper campaign. There was a fire at Newquay in August which showed the problems graphically.

There have been the usual Libdem complaints that the Labour government is not giving Cornwall county council enough money and last month a council delegation failed to persuade the government to give them more money for the fire service. Now the Liberal Democrat county council executive has heard the anger and alarm among voters and decided that in January it will recommend to the full council that Camborne (but not Falmouth) fire station is kept open 24 hours a day, fully crewed.

Apparently the council has the money needed after all.

It is tempting to hail this as listening to what people say and adjusting what one does accordingly, getting it wrong and then putting it right. What we might call democracy. However, I recall that the county council Liberal Democrats did not listen to the people of Cornwall when it came to the unitary council proposals. Listening and not listening. Camborne but not Falmouth. I can’t see any coherent principle of government here. This is not a policy, it’s a shambles.

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