CONTROVERSIAL plans to overhaul the Island's fire service have been put on hold until April - until the public gets a chance to look at them properly.

The Isle of Wight Council leader, Cllr Dave Stewart, and members of the authority's scrutiny committee agreed that the decision to reshape the service should be delayed by a month when they met this evening (Tuesday).

The proposals would see the number of 'wholetime' firefighters cut leading to accusations from the Fire Brigade's Union (FBU) that lives could be put at risk.

During the meeting, Cllr Geoff Brodie, told members that documents relating to the decision had not been brought to the attention of committee members until Monday afternoon.

He said: "This decision should not be made this week."

Cllr Dave Stewart added: "I do believe that this scrutiny committee and the cabinet should have sufficient time, not only to read the papers but to discuss the papers."

There are currently seven firefighters based at Newport Fire Station, 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and a further seven at Ryde Fire Station between 9am and 5pm, Monday to Friday.

They are 'wholetime' firefighters who are immediately available to attend a fire, car crash or any other emergency incident.

Following a review of the Isle of Wight Fire and Rescue Service, the council has proposed a new model that would see more firefighters available during the day - when 73 per cent of incidents occur - seven days a week.

Four would be based at Ryde and four at Sandown, 12 hours a day and four at Newport 24 hours a day.

For more on this story, please see this week's County Press.