14/07/2013 Sunday Politics South West


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In the South West. The �5 million cut to fire services


in Devon and Somerset. And the MPs who say gypsy and


Apology for the loss of subtitles for 2226 seconds


traveller sites shouldn't get on the Sunday Politics in the South


West. The duty to provide sites for gypsies and travellers. Conservative


MPs say it should be removed and we should take a much harder line with


illegal camps. And for the next 20 minutes, I'm joined by the Labour MP


Alison Seabeck and the Conservative MEP Julie Girling.


The company which runs out-of-hours GP services in Cornwall has again


come in for scathing criticism from MPs. The findings were in a report


commissioned by the influential Public Accounts Committee. Here's a


quick reminder of the heated exchanges which took place when the


company, Serco, was giving evidence to the committee.


How many unfilled shifts in January this year? In terms of unfilled


shifts, I'd could tell you these statistics for last Saturday.


to know them for January, February and March. It is important to


recognise... Just answer the question. In terms of non-clinical


or clinical or smack you can define them however you want but and so the


question. Unfilled shifts, recently highlighted in the media as well,


that is not an accurate way to measure the service.


Some might say that this is not terribly encouraging in terms of a


move towards even more private sector involvement in the NHS.


not familiar with the details of the Serco issue. The thing about service


in the health service is that it does vary from place to place. If


there is a problem in one place it needs to be sorted out and the


Public Accounts Committee have got their teeth into this. I hope they


come to a solution. But it does not mean, any more than all public


service is bad, that all private services are bad. In terms of out of


hours care, my own personal view, I have always been uncomfortable with


the reforms that came in and took it away from the family prang. I


thought that was a bad idea and I regret that it has not been changed


since the government changed. to go back to Labour, one of Julie


was my colleagues has also said that this happened in Cornwall where


there was insufficient monitoring by the primary care trust. Now we have


got doctors running the NHS and things are improving? I think there


are wider issue. This happens in all sectors to some extent or another,


public or private. The important thing is we need to get to the


bottom of what happened in Cornwall. I am about to work on a


Bill in Parliament designed to put a private company in charge of defence


procurement. We need to be sure that accountability is in place,


transparency is in place and mechanisms are there to ensure that


these things are properly scrutinised to avoid the kind of


examples that we have seen in Cornwall in particular. Harrowing


tales coming out from Cornwall. Fewer people are dying in fires and


firefighters are dealing with fewer emergency incidents.


That was the justification for over �5 million worth of cuts to front


line fire services in Devon and Somerset. But unions and members of


the public say the austerity-driven move puts lives at risk. Jenny Kumah


reports. Campaigners outside one of the most


significant fire authority meetings in recent years. But their hopes


were dashed as �5 million of cuts were voted through. They need to


revisit their plans. The level of cuts to the front-line is just


unacceptable. In Plymouth three fire engines would be cut from being


crude full-time to on-call. The second fire engine in Torquay would


be cut to on-call as is the second fire engine in Taunton. In


Ilfracombe the fire engine is being cut from being a full crew to being


on call. Plymouth, they will have on-call firefighters which means


that some residents served by this station are likely to see slower


response times. At the moment if you live here near Plymouth Fire can get


to you in an emergency within ten minutes. But under the changes this


week response times would be slower and you could have to wait up to


three minutes longer. The Fire Brigades union says the cuts will


put lives at risk. It is quite simple. The more if I developed the


more danger if resents both to the public and firefighters alike. So if


you delay by five minutes, how quickly will these people be able to


get to a station in the summer? It is not acceptable. But the Devon and


Somerset Fire authority argues that the cuts affect the changing nature


of their work. They saved the number of emergency incidents has


significantly dropped from 4000 in 2007, to 3000 in 2012. The reduced


pressure is on fire services were highlighted in a recent review. In


that report from the government it was said that fire deaths are at an


all-time low. It is not about cutting a service but adjusting it


to the new need of the public which is a lesser need in terms of


critical response with fewer fire deaths and injuries. The fire


authority agrees that their work is more about prevention and less about


response. The future for me is education. We have got to be


proactive rather than reactive to all situations. You have seen the


statistics, it makes sense to be proactive instead of reactive.


cuts made this week were about meeting tough spending targets set


by the government. Even though fire risks have fallen some are still


worried that the pressure to save money has led to a decision which


could put lives at risk. And so a couple of different


opinions. Is it in fact reasonable rationalisation of the service or


plain dangerous? For Plymouth, you have a moral service in an urban


environment and that does not make sense to us. No other comparable


city are looking to do this. We also have something like one third of the


major risks across the region, high-rise, nuclear activity,


students, the level of risk is enormous. So you would not dispute


the general point that incidents are coming down but saying that there


are special circumstances in? Absolutely. And what the fire


service are doing has been brilliant. But if all incidents at


now responded to three minutes later, how many will turn into


serious injury or fatality could make which previously did not


because of the staffing levels. If you talk to firefighters they will


say that a number of incidents do require two fire engines and require


them to be on-site promptly. There was a significant incident requiring


ladders and there are genuine concerns. The retained service, the


firefighters largely do a fantastic job. I would not say that they would


not do a good job. They would do the best job that they can. But the time


of response is crucial in a fire. Julie, do you agree with the unions


or the authority? I agree that we should look at it carefully. Money


does have to be saved across all services. Throughout the whole


south-west we do juggle with this issue around rural and urban areas.


Retained firefighters in the South West are fantastic. The work that


they do I think is second to none. Urban areas have unique problems. I


would say, let us be flexible. you happen to be that minor


statistic, your house is on fire, it is no consolation to you that


generally it does make sense. agree with that and risk management


is about weighing that up. Full risk assessment has happened here and it


has been deemed that that risk is small enough to be not significant.


Let us see how we go. Nobody could say that there could not be an


incident in Plymouth where two fire engines were required in five


minutes. But I think you can say with confidence that they have


looked at those possibilities and that they are sure that the plan and


they are putting in place will be adequate.


Should the government - and the taxpayer - have a duty to provide


residential sites for gypsies and travellers? Both this government and


the last one have said yes. This week, though, Tory MPs were again


insisting we shouldn't be giving them special treatment. But the


authorities should be doing more to evict them from illegal camps. Scott


Bingham reports. The debate over Gypsy and Traveller


pictures has divided political parties, councils and communities.


Under government guidance local authorities now have to identify a


supply of deliverable fights sufficient for five years provision


against locally set targets in their local plan. Cornwall Council


identified this plot overlooking the sea as a potential site earlier this


year. This lay-by in Cornwall is well known locally as an


unauthorised site which until recently was occupied by a traveller


known as the mushroom man due to the card wooden ornaments used to sell.


Cornwall Council put forward a planning application to create


permanent Gypsy and Traveller pictures here that there was


widespread local opposition. The application has now been withdrawn


and the mushroom man has moved on. Opposition to such land is often one


of the major obstacles to local authorities being able to provide


pictures. The local MP is firmly behind the object to this. To put in


a planning application after somebody had just decided to park by


the side of the road in a beauty spot was totally unacceptable. It


sent out the message that anybody who was prepared to flout the


planning laws would get away with it. It just was not right. She's not


alone her view. I did not think it is the responsibility of the


government to provide site for travellers. In most cases they are


people who are not vulnerable but have plenty of resources. I think we


should be better in forcing the law and removing them when they


gate-crash online. Some want to go even further along that hard line.


wanted to call my bill Gypsies and Travellers, the same planning rules


as everyone else. This week Philip Holub own called for the removal of


any special provision for Gypsies and Travellers from national


planning regulations. I do not see why one category of person should be


treated differently from anyone else. But Gypsy and Traveller groups


say when local authorities are already struggling to provide enough


pitches, such a move would simply force more people onto illegal


encampments. I think local authorities will us the chance to


have a home and have access to health and education and for a


permanent base. Cornwall Council forecast it will need 237


residential pitches by 2020 and has already approved 106 five since


2006. It says it needs assessment is currently being updated for the next


stage of the local plan. Well we're joined by the man whose


job it is to provide Gypsy and Traveller sites in Cornwall.


Councillor Jeff Brown. Where are you in your general need to satisfy


this? Well the people who have been resident in one area have actually


integrated well in one area and we have lessons to drool from that. We


need to engage with local communities much earlier. But we


need to provide, at the moment the target is 159 residential pitches.


We have achieved 106. There are two problems. One is that we need to


deliver pitches in places which Gypsies and Travellers will use and


secondly they need to be accepted into the local community. It is


incredibly difficult. One councillor said it was the most difficult job


they had ever had to do as a councillor. It is usually


challenging. It goes back to the Housing act of 2004, the obligation


to provide these pictures. And now there is a bill coming through


Parliament effectively saying, take the pain rushes away. Whether you


agree or disagree with the latest build, the fact is that those


Gypsies and Travellers will still be there and we need to provide for


them, for the welfare of the children and families and their


education as well. Julie, do you agree that really we do not as a


society open Gypsies and Travellers this service? I get confused by


travellers who talk about a permanent residents. If you are


asking to be provided with a permanent site then you're not


traveller. It is a cultural thing. I think I would say that transit


fights are one thing. There is still a community out there that moves


around, whether you like it or not, that exists. I live in


Gloucestershire where we have a gypsy fair every year and we see a


huge number of people travelling to that and the community has had to


adjust to that and has done it well. I think Ford transit there is an


issue. Councils to need to keep that in mind. But permanent residence for


people who say they are Travellers, it is just a logical to me. If you


want to stay in one place and integrate into a community, then


that is a totally different thing. You are the expert on this, what do


travellers want in these circumstances could make many of


them do want a permanent base. of them travel in the summer months.


Historically they travelled for work. In Cornwall it is one of our


largest ethnic minority groups and it is important to realise that we


have to provide for these people and it is better if we can provide for


them in local authority sites so we can put in sanitation, freshwater,


access to a network of support, medical and welfare support. Cheryl


Murray was talking that she knew of Romany Gypsies in her constituency


who had applied for planning a mission for a piece of land in the


normal way. And we get a huge number of applications that do come through


like that. The majority of our pitches are actually private


applications. If that's not a better way forward with Mac even with the


private applications, that is not delivering the number that we need


to deliver. I think it is safe to say that you do not take the view


that the obligation should be lifted from local authorities? No, indeed.


I think authorities are being enlightened and people do need


permanent sites. These are people who used to travel to pick hops in


Kent or do agricultural work in Lincolnshire and then return back to


a base where their children often were educated. So permanent is


perhaps not quite -- the right word. But they do not do that any more.


Most families still do. I do not agree with you about the need for


transit. Plymouth have just got the go-ahead for a transit site. We have


one persistent problem where it makes local people's lives hell. The


council are operating with one arm tied behind their back. It is


important that there is a duty to have transit sites. That will make


it easier to enforce as well. think the Labour government should


have taken a firmer line? It is years since you eventually restored


this requirement and it has crept along at a smell's pace. It has been


down to local councils to push it through and some have been better


than others. Cornwall clearly have made some very good efforts and


Plymouth have certainly tried. Whilst at the same time listening to


the concerns of people. Most people's experience of settling is


not a good one. A lot of Gypsies used to travel for agricultural work


in the summer. Much of that is now done by Eastern Europeans and Now


our regular round-up of the political week in 60 seconds.


The Gypsies are now often travelling through Europe. At one site I spoke


to one 12-year-old who was fluent in three languages. We will have to


leave it there. I am pleased that the court listened


to the challenge about fishing quotas. The Cornwall Council of the


sparks fury with comments about disabled children resigns. An


official report concluded that the things he had said were outrageous


and grossly insensitive. In terms of reputation it has not been good for


Cornwall. I regret that the comments were ever made in the first race and


that is the problem we have to address. It deal has been signed to


bring high-speed broadband to 97% of people in Dorset. It builds to


impose licensing on street traders was introduced. And there is also a


campaign to scrap business rates for public lavatories.


Julie, you know a lot about fishing. Some suggested that moving the quota


to smaller boat is not quite what it seems because some of the smaller


boats can be powerful. Nowadays they have good engines on some of them


but in the end they are small boats and there is a limit on how far out


to see they can go. They are limited by their seagoing worthiness. I


think the real issue in October and November, the Minister has committed


to publishing full quotas for the UK. Up until now that has been very


murky. Then we can get a good debate going. Let me just ask, this


recommendation that MPs should get bigger salaries? Well an independent


body have looked into it. And now nobody seems to like the outcome. I


would urge Mike constituents to contribute to the consultation


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