Tenbury fire row hots up

Councillor Phil Grove has been criticised by Alec Wall, president of the West Worcestershire Conservatives.

Councillor Phil Grove has been criticised by Alec Wall, president of the West Worcestershire Conservatives.

First published in News

THE row among Tenbury Conservatives is hotting up with a call for fire service rebel Phil Grove to ‘get his facts right’ and apologise.

It comes from Alec Wall, president of the West Worcestershire Conservatives, who says the decision of Coun Grove to vote against cuts in the fire services budget, including the loss of one of Tenbury’s two engines, was out of order.

Phil Grove, who represents Tenbury on Malvern Hills District Council and Hallow on Worcestershire County Council, defied a Conservative party whip to vote against fire service cuts.

He claimed that his decision was one of conscience because it would put lives at risk and was partly informed by an experience he had as a policeman when he had a young boy die in his arms of carbon monoxide poisoning.

But this has been dismissed with scorn by Alec Wall, who lives in Tenbury and is also a former police officer.

“When he claims that he puts lives before money this is not a matter of conscience,” said Mr Wall, who added that this defence applied to issues such as religious conviction.

He also calls upon the councillor to apologise because his remarks implied that members of the Fire Authority that backed the cuts were willing to put money before life.

But at the heart of Mr Wall’s attack on Coun Grove is his claim that the loss of an engine puts lives at risk which Mr Wall says is false and he says that Coun Grove as a member of the fire authority should have known this.

He said that Tenbury has two fire engines, only one of which would ever be used in rescue situations where lives are at risk.

It is the rescue pump that will remain and therefore Mr Wall says that it is false to say that the loss of the second pump would put lives at risk.

“Phil Grove should apologise for his comment about putting lives before money,” said Alec Wall.

“It is an insult to the other members of the fire authority and is not true that the loss of the second pump put lives at risk.”

Mr Wall said that improvement in fire safety, including alarms and the use of fire retardant materials in furniture, meant that there has been a reduction in the number of serious fires and that the service has to respond to changing circumstances.

He said that Coun Grove remained a member of the Conservative party although he has been suspended for six months from the Conservative group on Worcestershire County Council.

But the political future of the councillor depends upon how he conducts himself in the future.

Alec Wall said that he is strongly against councillors sitting on two authorities, as is the case with Coun Grove, who is on Malvern Hills District Council, where he is a former leader, and on Worcestershire County Council.

He said he thought that there was too much work to be able to be on two councils.

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