Battle Fire Station meeting - Where were the councillors?

The Battle Observer emailed all 15 members of the Fire Authority on Tuesday morning to ask why they were unable to attend Monday night’s meeting. These are the responses we received below.

n Chairman Cllr Phil Howson (UKIP, borough of Lewes): “If the Fire Authority did turn up in force it would make no difference. We would not make a decision until the Fire Authority meeting in June.

“We asked local members to attend and feed back to others.”

n Cllr John Barnes (Conservative, Rother): “First, and decisive in my case, I had to attend the Annual Parish Assembly of Brightling to give my annual report. Incidentally part of our discussion there concerned Battle Fire Station.

“Second, no member of the Fire Authority can give a view as they would be held to have predetermined their judgment on the issue. All we could have done is to answer factual questions and that is best done by the professionals, who in the case of Battle have come forward with two options.”

He added: “There is also some force in the point that I know others feel - that unless you can get to all public meetings and all stations, your choice of which to attend might be misconstrued.

“I do not think that would have caused me any hesitation, but you will find I have not only acknowledged all e-mails sent to me but have passed them on so they can be given full weight in the consultation. When The Fire Authority have taken their decisions and I have finally had a chance to express the view that by that time I will have reached, I shall be perfectly happy to defend that view and the decision reached.

“I am sorry if people attacked the Fire Authority last night. It is not responsible for the cuts in the general grant it is going to receive, it has raised the Council Tax and it is consulting rather than rushing into decisions.”

n Cllr Christopher Hawtree (Green, Brighton and Hove): “There are many fire stations. Nobody can get to every meeting across Sussex... And I have been down with the pervasive bug.”

He added: “Also I do not know what the meeting did that was different from people writing in?”

n Cllr Garry Peltzer-Dunn (Conservative, Brighton and Hove): “I did not attend the meeting as I was already engaged - it would have been wrong of me to request another date just for my convenience.

“I do see this meeting (as well as other such meetings) as very much part of the public consultation process. I have had many differing views given to me in the past few weeks and I will be giving full consideration to them when the matter is finally debated by the board.”

n Cllr Bob Carden (Labour, Brighton and Hove): The 76-year old, from Mile Oak, is recovering from a knee operation. Cllrs Scott and Wincott attended in his place.

n Cllr Carolyn Lambert (Liberal Democrat, Lewes) - “It would be inappropriate for members of the Fire Authority to form a view in advance of the results of the public consultation.

“The meeting was for members of the public to express their views and of course, the Fire Authority will listen to these and take them into account when we meet to take the extremely difficult decisions we simply cannot avoid.”

n Cllr Carla Butler (Liberal Democrat, Lewes) was at another meeting on the night.