CONTROVERSIAL plans to cut the number of firefighters have been put on hold for one month — but the Isle of Wight Council has resisted calls for a public consultation.

The council cabinet was due to approve the plans this evening (Thursday) but, after safety concerns were raised at a scrutiny committee meeting earlier this week, agreed to defer the decision.

A specially convened cabinet meeting will be held next month, which the council said would allow more time to consider the proposals.

Firefighters have warned the proposals will put the lives of the public, and firefighters, at risk.

In a statement issued today, the council said it would consider a proposal from the scrutiny committee to make the information around the review more publicly accessible.

However, it did not offer any suggestion as to how people could make their views known or raise objections.

It said the changes were 'largely operational' and it was right that the final decision was made by the cabinet.

Cllr Gary Peace, cabinet member for community safety and public protection, said: "These recommendations follow a detailed and thorough service evaluation and risk-based consultation with staff and unions.

"Having served for 18 years as an operational police officer, and being fully engaged with the work of fire services during my time, I fully understand the concerns expressed by all staff, together with the issues of morale and stretched resources.

"This is why, when I take, in conjunction with my cabinet colleagues, the final decision on the plans, we will have considered all views from all ranks and all parts of the service to inform our own decision-making process."

Council leader Cllr Dave Stewart added: “We are in a climate of change and we have a public duty to review service provision and ensure we are continuing to provide an efficient and effective service. However, I do not intend to compromise public safety.

"The offer I made to defer the decision will enable us all to be better informed and do the right thing for our Island residents."