How Safe is your Electric Blanket?

How safe is your electric blanket? It is a very interesting question; as if you own one like me, you think they are fine due to the modern technology that goes into making them nowadays. However, this is not always the case, as during a recent campaign by Cornwall Council’s Community Protection and Safety Team and Trading Standards.

How safe is your electric blanket?

During a county-wide electrical blanket testing that took place between September and October revealed that 46.7% of all blankets tested (90 in total) failed to meet the required safety standard, 15.6% of those failures produced sparks whilst being tested. These blankets were on beds and being used by elderly residents. It has certainly made me think about my own blanket, and have remove it until I get it tested.

Credit should go to the Community Safety Team for their campaign and swift their actions which have prevented serious injury to those involved and potentially eliminated the risk of a fire in their property.

Now, please get your blanket checked.


Cornwall Council counts the cost of the floods

First thing I am sure we can agree on is without the swift response of the emergency services, Police, organisations like the EA and South West Water, and the public helping, the floods would have been a lot worse. Cornwall Council should also hold its head high in the way it organised and run Silver Control; which is the name of the command centre that coordinated most of the response to the problems. Many council staff like those from the call centre who also came in and helped during the crisis. Sadly now, the council now has to pick up the costs of the torrent of water Cornwall was subjected to.

For Cornwall’s Fire and Rescue Service it amounts to over £91,000, with major appliances and pumping appliances committed to over 360 hours of being in attendance and on-duty. For the council’s Highway Department, the cost to our roads has passed the £3 million mark. This department of the council is already under difficult budgetary pressures without having to find a further few million.

In total the cost to the council so far is £3.2 million. I expect this to rise, and may even reach the £4 million mark once a full and detailed assessment has been completed. These figures exclude the cost to businesses and personal property, which is no doubt very high. However, the council does not have to fund (to a point) all this themselves, as there is something called the Bellwin Scheme. This allows the Government to provide financial assistance to local authorities where a Council has to incur expenditure through having to take immediate action to safeguard property or life or prevent suffering or severe inconvenience. However, total expenditure on these activities must exceed 0.2% of a Council’s Net Revenue Budget before being eligible. In Cornwall Council’s case the threshold is £1.410 million.

There is though a sting in the tail, as it is unlikely that much of this spending will be eligible for Bellwin. As most is reinstatement of highways and other infrastructure and capital expenditure of this nature is specifically excluded from the scheme. The council has, along with Cornwall’s MPs, asked the Secretary of State back in November 2010 to review the thresholds in the scheme for, but the Secretary of State refused to change the scheme. And to add to the council’s pain, it has again asked the Department of Communities and Local Government to alter the scheme. The reply was no. Let’s hope the Government realises this oversight, and gives those council’s and area affected by the severe weather additional funding. But I lets not hold our breath, as even a pearl diver could not hold their breath that long!

Your Views on a New Fire Station

Cornwall Council seem to be pressing ahead with the proposals for a new fire station to replace the two currently in Redruth and Camborne with one new station, and another in Hayle.  Any reduction of a fire station tends to get people hot under the collar resulting in a petition being started quicker than you can say, well, petition. But will life be put at risk if this plan goes ahead? Life is at risk when the response time from the initial emergency call comes in to getting boots on the ground to deal with the emergency.

The Cornwall Fire and Rescue Service (CFRS) say under the current provision they currently reach approximately 44% of the population of Camborne, Redruth, Pool and Hayle including the surrounding villages within a 10 minute emergency response time.  By relocating Camborne and Redruth’s community fire stations, fire crews could reach up to 15,000 more people, approximately 65% of the population in the same area within 10 minutes of an emergency call.

The new facility for the Camborne, Pool and Redruth area would provide a community fire station crewed by both full-time and ‘On Call’ staff on a 24/7 basis.  The proposal does not represent a reduction in fire cover as the same number of fire engines and specialist appliances will be available in the area. The complex project also aims to relocate a number of critical support services, including Fire Control, Lifeline, Training and Workshops, as well as providing a new headquarters for the service in the area.

Hayle Community Fire Station will be crewed by ‘On Call’ staff on a 24/7 basis and potentially shared to form a tri-service facility, with South Western Ambulance Trust, Devon and Cornwall Constabulary and CFRS working together under one roof.

However, the path might not be that smooth for the plan of a tri-service facility because of funding, and who pays for what. From experience, when various services share a building it quickly turns awkward when it comes down to rent, maintenance and who has the best offices. Let’s hope these issues will be sorted before a brick is laid.

Before a brick is laid, Cornwall Council wants to hear your views to the proposals. You can find more information about the plans by clicking this link HERE, or writing to Cornwall Fire and Rescue Service, CPRH Consultation Response, Old County Hall, Truro TR1 3HA, or by emailing

The consultation starts on the 16th January.



Cornwall Council’s Maritime Incident Response Group is Cut

Many will know that the Government of the day in its spending review cut funding to the Coastguards Emergency Towing Vehicle (ETV). This has resulted in the ETV being withdrawn. This in my opinion was a terrible decision not only putting putting peoples lives at risk, but also of grave concern is the danger to the coast of Cornwall if a ship/boat runs aground.

If this is not bad enough the funding Cornwall Council receives for the Maritime Incident Response Group (MIRG) has today been stopped. The MIRG is the specially trained firefighters who are deployed during an ship related emergency. Again, this is a disaster. It will be little comfort to the Chief Fire Officer that the government has agreed to cover Cornwall Council costs if the MIRG is deployed between now and the end of January 2012.

If no funding is found from other sources like the DCLG, or the Department of Transport I feel in the current financial climate there is little hope, the MIRG will be unable to continue post 31st January 2012. 

Whilst the ETV and the MIRG were not called out daily, or even weekly, they both have been used extensively over the last few years. There is no doubt without the intervention of the MIRG and ETV lives would have been put in grave danger, if not lost. 

Lets hope the government does reconsider on at least the MIRG! That is the least they owe the seafaring county of Cornwall. My understanding is Cornwall Council is doing everything within its power to make the government change its mind, and I would like to congratulate them on their endeavours.