David Burbage’s weblog

Politics in the Royal Borough of Windsor & Maidenhead

  • About David Burbage

    David Burbage MBE was Leader of the Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead Council from 2007-2016. This blog : Promoted by Geoff Hill on behalf of David Burbage and all other Windsor and Maidenhead Conservative candidates, all of 2 Castle End Farm, Ruscombe, Berkshire RG10 9XQ
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High Court – “May” I make a contribution

Posted by davidburbage on February 17, 2009

We lost our case at the High Court today to overturn the Fire Authority’s decision to withdraw night cover from Windsor Fire Station.

It’s frustrating on many levels.

Firstly, we don’t get to decide as a Council, despite being a top tier authority, what level of fire service our residents can pay for. At the moment, even if Windsor residents wanted to pay sufficient monies to operate a 24 hour fire station, they aren’t allowed to make that choice. They are dependent on councillors from other authorities who have nothing to lose, and everything to gain, by denying Windsor its existing facilities.

Secondly, the Government won’t let the Fire Authority (even if it wished) raise the precept to a level sufficient to fund night cover at Windsor. Now, the amount is extremely small beer per person, but for some reason a magic 5% number is centrally imposed to prevent an authority deciding on an appropriate level of service in the 21st Century based on a 20th century precept level.

Thirdly, it is not possible for the Fire Authority to levy different levels in different areas for different levels of service.

Fourthly, the Government decides the criteria by which an authority must deploy its resources.

Fifthly, population records (which feed into the computer models that drive the previous point) are woefully out of date and apparently show Slough’s population decreasing…. In fact, there are plenty of unregistered housing in multiple occupation presenting a great fire risk that go completely ignored by the models.

In terms of the court case itself, the legal arguments were detailed and hard to pick apart, but the basis of the challenge was that Windsor’s specific risks hadn’t been explored by the Fire Authority and hadn’t been put to consultation. The Authority said that they followed procedures and that we were complicit in doing that because we’d been there all along, so why weren’t we saying what we are saying now, then? Of course, we did say those things needed proper consideration at the Fire authority meeting but to no avail.

It is, as the BBC reporter pointedly remarked, a pretty sad day when the Royal Berkshire Fire and Rescue Service reduces their fire and rescue service to Royal Windsor.

We still want to restore the service back to 24 hours.

PS: to explain the title. I contributed one word to proceedings today, clarifying for the defence (who were referring to me being there) who pointed out I was now the Leader of the Council, since July 2007?

“May” I said. My High Court debut.

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