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23rd SEPTEMBER 2004

STORY: EMMA EVANS
emma.evans@gwent-wales.co.uk


PHOTO: NO PHOTO

 

PUBLIC SAFETY: END OF 24-HOUR SERVICE WILL INCREASE RESPONSE TIMES, SAY COUNCILLORS

PLANS to end the 24-hour manning of Pontardawe Fire Station have met with hostility.

Mid and West Wales Fire Service want to introduce part-time staffing at the station, which serves Pontardawe, Trebanos, Ynysmeudwy, Ystalyfera and Clydach.

However, local councillors have hit out at the plans, claiming they could jeopardise public safety.

Pontardawe county councillor Mike James said the move would increase response times.

“The service will come from either Morriston or Swansea,” said Mr. James.

“There is the possibility of a tragedy, because ambulance drivers coming from Morriston will have to manoeuvre through the ‘wacky races' roundabout.

“The county council and the community council are extremely concerned about the situation,”

Mr. James said the ambulance service was controlled from Carmarthenshire until April.

“A few weeks later, a local woman was taken by taxi to the local doctors' surgery.

“She was diagnosed with dehydration and had to be taken to hospital.

“But it was a long time before an ambulance arrived. This is an example how local services can suffer when they are moved from local control.”

County councillor for Alltwen, David Lewis, said the plans were worrying.

“I will be seeking assurances that alternative measures are put in place,” he said.

A spokeswoman for the Mid and West Wales Fire Service said the proposal was about “balancing resources with activity levels.”

She added: “We aim to reduce risk and improve public safety. One of the ways we are hoping to do this is by increasing the number of home fire safety audits by about 10,000.

“There will still be the same amount of fire engines doing the same job.

She added: “We will be reviewing staffing levels in relation to the level of low call activity in the Pontardawe area.”

 

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