We now have access to the full management document on which the Warwickshire Fire proposals are based. Here it is. To be exactly right, this is the redacted version. In other words, they still aren’t telling us everything.
But, even as it is, there is enough in it — more than enough — to call into fundamental question everything that the Consultation Documents put forward. Some of it directly contradicts what the documents say. For example, in the Improvement Plan FAQ’s (sic), we read: “Will response times to incidents be increased? No, the locally determined response standards will be achieved across the county.” 1
The true picture, as presented in the Det Norske Veritas report (ironically, Det Norske Veritas loosely translates as ‘the Norwegian truth’), is that average response time across the county will increase. And, of course, those are average times. In the most affected areas, they increase substantially.
Most of what we learn, though, is that very substantial and important information was suppressed from the consultation documents. These were already suspected of being skewed and leading, but it is now extremely hard to come to any other conclusion than that a one-sided picture has been deliberately presented with a view to gaining public consent on what is — arguably — a false prospectus.
My report on the differences between the two documents is available for download here: Comparison between Consultation documents and Det Norske Veritas risk report.
My conclusion is very simple: the current fire consultation should be suspended immediately. It is now entirely discredited. It serves no worthwhile purpose continuing it — particularly as the management report makes it clear that the risks were evaluated in haste, with very many poorly based assumptions. Det Norske Veritas recommended that time be taken for a full report. It was not. Instead, a hasty and ill-conceived consultation was rushed through, without even the most basic steps of proof-reading the questions to make sure they all made grammatical sense.
This consultation should be cancelled. A proper risk analysis should be written, and published. Then, if there is still an appetite to close fire stations, a proper consultation should be run, pre-checked by an independent, competent advisor: a consultation which is honest, complete, and which fairly sets out the positives and the negatives.
Anything less will be a travesty.
Note: the web address of the Warwickshire Compact referenced in my report has changed. It is now: http://www.warwickshirecompact.org.uk/uploads/2/9/2/7/2927811/compact__codes_2005.pdf
- the FAQs were uploaded on 16 October, and link to the DNV report — it is therefore particularly surprising that this claim is made ↩