Sshhh! Don’t tell everyone, but there’s another public consultation meeting arranged in Croydon where there’s been very little notice given, and no mention in official publicity of probably the most significant proposal affecting the area.
The London Fire Brigade has given just a week’s notice of an “open day” lasting just three hours at Croydon Fire Station to consult on the London Safety Plan.
Nowhere is it mentioned in the publicity for the open day that the 73-page plan includes proposals to build a six-storey smoke training tower at the fire station in Waddon, which the fire service intends to operate 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
The cynically inclined might suggest that the short notice of the one-off “open day” for a consultation is intended to make it as difficult as possible for as many people as possible to have any say in the matter whatsoever.
Certainly, ward councillor Andrew Pelling is unimpressed with the way the Fire Brigade has handled its supposed public “engagement”.
“I am very disappointed with how the Fire Brigade’s consultation is being handled,” Pelling, one of the Waddon councillors, told Inside Croydon.
“When we met the chair of the fire authority, Fiona Twycross, and the then Fire Commissioner Ron Dobson, we were promised a transparent consultation on the new fire tower with a January open day. When I attended the fire authority’s meeting that decided to go ahead with the fire tower, it was made clear by members that they wanted a good quality consultation with residents on the new fire tower.”
Pelling highlights the minutes of the meeting held at City Hall, which refer to “… any approval being subject to full and robust consultation, including with local residents, as part of the planning process”.
Pelling said, “Now what we have is an event publicised with just a week’s notice and with no mention of the fire tower in the publicity.
“It’s as if the fire service is trying to discourage any public interest in the six-storey fire training tower. Fiona Twycross’s concerns for the local residents’ interests appear to be being ignored.”
The Fire Brigade wants to demolish the existing tower in the Croydon Fire Station yard and spend £11million to construct a modern training tower which will generate thick smoke to simulate conditions in fires in tower blocks. The Croydon tower will be one of three such facilities in the capital, and will be used by a range of emergency service personnel as well as fire fighters for training.
The tower will be located close to the Elis David almshouses which houses more than 60 elderly residents in Duppas Hill Terrace, and upwind from the Cromwell House nine-storey towers of mainly social housing.
According to Pelling, Dany Cotton, who is now the Fire Commissioner for London, has said, “that she would like to see the site used 24/7 in conjunction with other blue light services at London Heathrow, London Underground, the GLA and the police. But her predecessor, Commissioner Dobson, reassured us that this would not be the case.
“The way that the consultation is being run makes me fear that the sentiment towards the quality of consultation and hours of operation have changed under the new leadership.”
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