Portsmouth Tory leader dismisses suggestion meeting was cancelled because of pro-fire service campaign

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THE leader of Portsmouth City Council has dismissed suggestions that an 
all-members meeting was cancelled because campaigners wanted to debate about proposed changes to the city’s fire cover.

The Lib Dems say they found out that the scheduled full council debate on January 26 was called off a day after submitting a petition to be put forward calling for a re-think over a planned reduction in firefighter jobs and fire engines.

As reported, as part of a county-wide review, Southsea fire station could see its crew go from 20 to 16 and its three fire engines be replaced with an enhanced vehicle, intermediate vehicle and a first response vehicle – a move that would save £578,736 a year.

Cosham could see one of its two fire engines swapped for a smaller vehicle.

But Tory council leader Donna Jones said the meeting had been cancelled in December as there wasn’t any business coming forward from the administration to discuss. It was for that reason the Tory cabinet did not meet in public earlier this month.

And Cllr Jones said she wasn’t aware of any petition – and warned that calling a meeting over one item was a huge waste of taxpayers’ money as senior officers give up their time to attend.

But Portsmouth Lib Dem leader Gerald Vernon-Jackson said: ‘It seems that the Conservatives are really scared about local people’s views about cuts to the fire service.’