Data used to justify fire station closures – allegation of serious flaws which should lead to withdrawal of consultation document

Owl has received a link to a communication to Sarah Randall Johnson, DCC Chair of Devon & Somerset Fire & Rescue Authority about Fire Station closures and the data used to justify them.

This is somewhat technical, but the substance is that the allegation seems to be that Fire Service has manipulated data (possibly without realising it but possibly deliberately) to present it in a way that is more favourable to them. The writer urges that, because of serious flaws, the document should be withdrawn.

Owl is no mathematician and leaves it to those who are of a more mathematical nature to challenge the assertions made:

“Consultation document misleading, over 600,000 people face increased life risk

My email to Sara Randall Johnson, Chair of Devon & Somerset Fire & Rescue Authority, sent yesterday:

Dear Fire Authority Chair,

Whilst I am sure you were unaware, the consultation document you have put your name to is deliberately misleading. Sadly, it appears this has been done to deceive the residents of Devon & Somerset and I would urge you to withdraw the document.

My experience of FSEC modelling made me doubt the claims made by ACFO Pete Bond in his BBC interview on 2nd July, so I submitted questions to the Safer Together Programme Team. Their answers, and another D&SF&RS document (attached), confirm my suspicions that the presentation of the risk modelling outcomes are deliberately misleading.

The reduced risk claim is frankly fraudulent, as it is based on a comparison for the future, which assumes all the service’s fire engines are available, with the current situation, which assumes several fire engines are not available. The excuse given is that crewing and contract changes will ensure all appliances will be available in future. That is outrageous speculation and it is highly unlikely that will ever be achieved.

So, the only honest and responsible method is to compare current theoretical full availability with future theoretical full availability. That comparison shows, although not very clearly in the public consultation document, an extra death every other year on option 5 (25 extra in dwellings and 22 extra in RTCs in 100 years). A figure that will be higher, as not all deaths have been included in the results. Fire deaths not in dwellings, which in some years have exceeded those in dwellings, and deaths at non-fire incidents, other than road traffic collisions, have not been included.

The figure shown for RTCs is also highly suspicious, as the service saves many more lives at RTCs than it does at dwelling fires. Delayed responses will therefore impact more on RTC fatalities than on dwelling fire fatalities. FSEC modelling in other fire & rescue services show that for every extra death in a dwelling fire there can be 15 extra deaths in non-fire incidents, as a direct result of longer response times.

Although the reply I received states that the modelling for RTCs was based on attendance times for the first two fire engines, the figures in the consultation document suggest that is not the case. In option 5, fourteen second fire engines are taken out of use during the day, yet it is claimed that will make no difference to RTC fatalities (same result as for option 4). This suggests that the figures used in the consultation document are for first fire engine only, so once again deliberately misleading. It is also concerning that modelling figures have not been provided for property damage, which is also certain to increase if the proposals go ahead.

The figures for option 6 are also dubious and wholly unreliable. I am told that the roving fire engines were “in certain locations for the purpose of the modelling”. Whilst there may be odd occasions when a roving fire engine happens to be near enough to an incident to provide an improved response time, the random nature of emergencies means there is a much higher probability that it will not. Evidence of this unreliability can be found in the Analytical Comparison of Community Impacts from Service Delivery Operating Model document, dated June 2019. This is stated to be “the evidence base to assess the impact of changes to our Service Delivery Operating Model”. This shows the outcomes for options 5 and 6 as the same, which means there is no improvement on response times for roving fire engines.

Whilst the Analytical Comparison document seems generally more accurate than the consultation document, there are still some concerning conclusions in it. For example, on page 45, the increased response time shown for Porlock and Woolacombe, if they are closed, is just two to five minutes. Yet the nearest fire engines are Minehead and Ilfracombe respectively, both six miles away. Even Lewis Hamilton could not achieve that on those roads in even light traffic. Similarly, the map on page 46 shows day crewing at Barnstaple only increasing first pump response time by one to two minutes. The reality is that at night, with On Call Firefighters responding from home, it would be an increase of around four minutes. These outputs suggest the results have been manipulated to appear less severe.

However, what the Analytical Comparison document does reveal is that over 600,000 residents will face an increased risk to their lives if the full proposals are carried out (262,486 households x 2.3 average occupancy = 603,718 people). That detail should not be kept secret, the public deserve to know before responding to the consultation. It is also very disturbing that the station risk profiles for every fire station have suddenly been removed from the D&SF&RS website. Removing recent (2018/19) performance information during a consultation is not being responsible and accountable.

I would add that I requested copies of the actual modelling data used, but this has not been supplied.

I can’t believe that you would be happy about the public and Fire Authority Members being misled in this way. Please have the document withdrawn and postpone the consultation until a revised document can be published showing full, accurate and honest details of the impact of these cuts. Given the seriousness of this matter I have copied this email to Fire Authority Members and other concerned parties.

Yours sincerely
Name notshown”

https://stopfirecutsdevonandsomerset.blogspot.com/2019/07/consultation-document-misleading-over.html

Profile of blogger of above information (Tony Morris):

“I spent 32 years in the fire service in Bedfordshire and West Sussex. My last six years in the service were as Operational Planning Officer responsible for contingency planning. I was then Senior Emergency Management Adviser for West Sussex County Council for 15 years, covering all areas of emergencies and business continuity.

I served on several inter-agency groups at local, regional and national level dealing with major incident procedures & training, maritime and airport emergencies, incidents involving hazardous materials (CBRN, COMAH etc.), telecommunications and other critical infrastructure.

I have studied how fire services operate and how major incidents are handled in different parts of the World. All this has given me a good understanding of the complexities of emergencies and how to deal with them, as well as a keen eye to spot inadequacies in planning, training or resources.

Now fully retired I am free to challenge ill-considered cuts to the fire & rescue service and my blogs are intended to alert the public to the truth behind the spin. The first blog covered West Sussex, where I live, and the second Devon, where I was born and raised.”

“Police letting down older victims of crime, say inspectors”

“Older victims of crime are being let down by the police and the wider criminal justice system, according to the first inspection report on the age group.

The police have only a “superficial understanding” of the crimes committed against older people, the report by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services and Her Majesty’s Crown Prosecution Service Inspectorate says.

Older people account for 18% of the population but more than eight out of 10 victims of doorstop scams are elderly, the report says. Older people also comprise a quarter of domestic homicide victims.

“Despite these statistics and the fact that we have an increasingly ageing population, the two inspectorates found that the police and Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) lacked any joint cohesive and focused strategy to deal with older victims of crime,” says the report.

Inspectors found that out of 153 cases where a safeguarding referral should have been made by police to the local authority, on 77 occasions there was no any evidence of this taking place.

Of the 192 cases the inspectorates looked at in detail, victim care was found not to be good enough in 101 of them and the victims’ code was complied with on only 97 occasions.

“As people are living increasingly longer, it is imperative that the needs of older people are properly understood by those charged with protecting them,” said the inspector of constabulary, Wendy Williams. “Unfortunately, our inspection found that older people are often not treated according to their needs by the criminal justice system. We want to see a sharper focus on older people and the problems they face.”

John Beer, the chair of Action on Elder Abuse, said: “This is a truly damning report about the way the criminal justice system treats older victims. Action on Elder Abuse has led the call for a specific offence or aggravating factor of elder abuse, in recognition of the devastating impact crime has on older victims. As a society we already recognise that where a victim is targeted because of their race, religion, sexual identity or disability, a tougher sentence should apply. …”

https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2019/jul/17/police-letting-down-older-victims-of-say-inspectors?CMP=Share_iOSApp_Other

Parish backs Johnson because “he has plans for the south west”

A garden bridge over the Tamar?
An international airport at Lands End with a runway going out to sea?
A cable car between Cranbrook and the Science Park?

Boggled mund …

https://www.midweekherald.co.uk/news/honiton-and-tverton-mp-is-impressed-by-his-brexit-plans-1-6165434

Tory grandee asks Tory May about Persimmon – gets Tory reply!

“Robert Halfon, a Conservative, says he recently met constituents who moved into Help to Buy homes build by Persimmon. The houses are shoddy, he says. He says his constituents view Persimmon as “crooks, cowboys and con artists”.

May says developers should be building good quality housing under this scheme.”

https://www.theguardian.com/politics/live/2019/jul/17/brexit-tory-leadership-pmqs-boris-johnson-theresa-may-mcdonnell-sets-out-labours-three-strategies-for-ending-in-work-poverty-live-news

Well, that’s sorted then – NOT!

Glover Review of National Parks and AONBs – interim findings

Some quotes:

“… The message from all this work has been vigorous and clear. We should not be satisfied with what we have at the moment. It falls short of what can be achieved, what the people of our country want and what the government says it expects in the 25-year plan for the environment.

Some of this failure comes from the fact that our protected landscapes have
not been given the tools, the funding and the direction to do the job we should now expect of them. I want to praise the commitment of those who work to protect our landscapes today. Everywhere I’ve been I’ve seen energy,
enthusiasm and examples of success.

Supporting schools, youth ranger schemes, farm clusters, joint working with
all sorts of organisations, tourism, planning and design, backing local
businesses, coping with the complexities of local and central government –
things like this happen every day, not much thanks is given for them and yet
much of it is done well, for relatively small sums.

But all this impressive effort is not achieving anything like as much as it could.

We need to reignite the fire and vision which brought this system into being in 1949. We need our finest landscapes to be places of natural beauty which look up and outwards to the nation they serve.

In essence, our review will ask not ‘what do protected landscapes need?’, but “what does the nation need from them today?’….

We think that AONBs should be strengthened, with increased funding, new purposes and a greater voice on development. We have been impressed by what they often achieve now through partnership working.

We believe there is a very strong case for increasing funding to AONBs. We will make proposals in our final review.

– We have been asked to give our view on the potential for new designations. We will set this out in our final report.”

Click to access landscapes-review-interim-findings-july2019.pdf

“Rural domestic abusers being protected by countryside culture”

“Rural women enduring domestic abuse are half as likely as urban victims to report their suffering and are being failed by authorities with perpetrators shielded by countryside culture, a report says.

Abusers are protected by the isolation of the countryside and traditional patriarchal attitudes, says the report from the National Rural Crime Network. It is the first study of its kind and finds that close-knit rural communities can facilitate abuse which can last, on average, 25% longer than in urban areas.

Some abusers move their partners from urban areas, where detection is more likely, to rural areas.

The report, published on Wednesday, says: “Rurality and isolation are used as a weapon by abusers. Financial control, removal from friends, isolation from family are all well-understood tools of abuse.”

It continues: “We have revealed a traditional society where women (and it is mostly women) are subjugated, abused and controlled, not just by an individual abuser, but de facto by very the communities in which they live, too often left unsupported and unprotected. This is not at all unique to rural areas, but it is very significant, and change is slow.”

Abusers exploiting isolation is a common theme in the report. One woman said: “My partner used to deliberately drive off to work with the kids’ car seats in his car, which meant I could not go anywhere safely because I was stuck in the cottage with the kids … it was just another way he isolated me and kept me from interacting with anyone else.”

The National Rural Crime Network is funded largely by police forces and their police and crime commissioners, to improve public safety in rural areas.

The report says that traditional, patriarchal communities control and subjugate women. “Rural communities are still dominated by men and follow a set of age-old, protected and unwritten principles.

“Men tend to hold the rural positions of power – head of the household, landowner, landlord, policeman, farmer. This patriarchal society makes women more vulnerable to coercion and control, prevented from speaking out and accessing support.”

Some cases have led to murder, such as that of Lance Hart, 57, who shot dead his wife Claire, 50, and daughter Charlotte, 19, in Spalding, Lincolnshire, in 2016, before killing himself. Claire Hart suffered years of controlling behaviour without the authorities realising and was killed after leaving her abusive husband.

One caseworker in County Durham said of the people suffering: “Many of them are in such a stressful situation they have shut down from any kind of rational thinking. It’s like all their effort goes into survival mode or protection for the kids … The longer it goes on the less likely they are to see the dangers.”

Escape is harder than in urban Britain because of shrinking resources and cuts to public services, the report says. “The availability of public services in rural areas more generally is on the decline, limiting the support networks and escape routes available to victims.

“A recently evidenced reduction in rural GP practices and challenges of effective broadband are good examples. This equally extends to services like buses and trains, whereby it remains very difficult (and getting worse) to travel within rural areas without a private vehicle. Abusers use this to limit victims’ movements, rendering already inaccessible services all but impossible to contact. …”

https://www.theguardian.com/society/2019/jul/17/rural-domestic-abusers-being-protected-by-countryside-culture?CMP=Share_iOSApp_Other

“UK’s renting millennials face homelessness crisis when they retire”

“More than 600,000 members of so-called ‘Generation Rent’ are facing an “inevitable catastrophe” of homelessness when they retire, according to the first government inquiry into what will happen to millennials in the UK who have been unable to get on the housing ladder as they age.

People’s incomes typically halve after retirement. Those in the private rented sector who pay 40% of their earnings in rent could be forced to spend up to 80% of their income on rent in retirement.

If rents rise at the same rate as earnings, the inquiry found that 52% of pensioners in the private rental sector will be paying more than 40% of their income on rent by 2038. This will mean that at least 630,000 millennials are unable to afford their rent.

They will find themselves homeless or with no choice but to move into temporary accommodation, at the state’s expense, according to the report by the all-party parliamentary group on housing and care for older people.

“The number of households in the private rented sector headed by someone aged over 64 will more than treble over the next 25 to 30 years,” said Richard Best, the chair of the group. “But unless at least 21,000 suitable homes are built a year, there will be nowhere affordable for them to live. The consequence is bound to be homelessness for some.”

The report also forecasts that, in terms of quality of accommodation, the number of older households living in unfit and unsuitable private rented accommodation could leap from about 56,000 to 188,000 in 20 years’ time and to 236,500 in 30 years’ time. And it warns that the UK is headed towards an ‘inevitable catastrophe for the pensioners of tomorrow”.

Substandard housing is already known to be a direct cause of death for many older people: at least 53,000 winter deaths of old people over the last five years have been attributed to conditions related to living in a cold home.

While retired people in social housing are more likely to live in affordable, decent homes, the report – Rental Housing for an Ageing Population – says there is not nearly enough of this housing even now.

“We see the likelihood of a significant shortfall in the available places within the current stock since, at present, few retirement schemes are being created,” said Lord Best. …”

https://www.theguardian.com/society/2019/jul/17/renting-millennials-homelessness-crisis-retire?CMP=Share_iOSApp_Other