AN unrepentant Phil Grove whose vote gave a temporary reprieve to Tenbury's second fire engine has described how seeing a child die in his arms caused him to put lives before party.
The man, who represents Tenbury on Malvern Hills District Council and also sits on Worcestershire County Council, is fighting for his political life.
After a disciplinary meeting he has been suspended from the Conservative group on the county council and removed from the fire authority.
“As a policeman I had a five year old boy die in my arms from carbon monoxide poisoning,” Councillor Phil Grove told Tenbury Town Council this week.
“I put lives in front of money and I believe that was the right decision.”
He confirmed that it was his vote on the fire authority against the Conservative party whip that has at least put on hold the removal of the second fire engine in Tenbury and other cuts to the fire service in Herefordshire and Worcestershire.
The matter will be reconsidered again later in the year but Coun Grove will not have a say.
“I have been suspended from the Conservative party group and also removed from the fire authority,” said Coun Grove, who added that he had made his decision not just for Tenbury but in the interest of the whole of the county.
He said the days following the vote had been ‘some of the most difficult in his political career.’
The man, who is a former leader of Malvern Hills District Council, knows that getting on the wrong side of the Conservative party is likely to have implications for his political future.
As a result of his vote on the fire authority it was decided to use reserves to retain the existing levels of fire cover at least for the time being.
Coun Grove was praised for his actions by Tenbury Town Council.
“I personally congratulate Phil Grove for his principled stand,” said George Price, the mayor of Tenbury.
The mayor said that he understood that the removal of the second fire engine from Tenbury would save just £38,000 a year.
Town councillor Steve Bowkett was also full of praise.
“He has stood by the people of Tenbury and stood by the people in the area rather than bow to pressure to do what other people wanted him to do,” he said.
Ken Pollock, who represents Tenbury of Worcestershire County Council where is is a member of the Conservative Group, did not comment upon the actions of his colleague Phil Grove.
But he said that while the proposal had been to remove one of the two appliances serving Tenbury there was to be no reduction in the number of fire fighters based in the station.
The Hereford and Worcestershire Fire Authority is expected to discuss its budget again in the summer.