Chief Fire Officer expresses disappointment over councillor’s accusation

Mon 1 Feb, 2016

Buckinghamshire Fire & Rescue Service’s Chief Fire Officer, Jason Thelwell, has expressed his disappointment after a Milton Keynes councillor questioned the integrity of a public consultation exercise.

Councillor Zoe Nolan published a news release and repeatedly posted comments on social media calling Buckinghamshire & Milton Keynes Fire Authority’s consultation over a proposal to merge Bletchley and Great Holm Fire Stations a “sham”. She said she had uncovered evidence that there was already a plan to redevelop Great Holm. 

She later acknowledged that the “evidence” she cited had resulted from an error made by a third party, although she did not apologise for her earlier accusations.

Jason, pictured above, said: “My officers have always made it clear to all that they are willing to answer any questions, and have previously met Councillor Nolan to talk about her concerns.

“I am disappointed that Councillor Nolan chose to accuse us of conducting a sham consultation without at least picking up the phone to check the facts with us. She only had to ask the question.

“When Councillor Nolan acknowledged her misunderstanding, she wrote: ‘I will always stand up and ask difficult questions on behalf of my residents.’ Unfortunately not one person asked a single question of our officers on this particular issue.

“I now want to draw a line under this and would encourage everybody involved to seek clarification if they are unsure of any issue. The purpose of a consultation is to draw out the facts and to put the facts in the public domain to enable a decision to be made.” 

Jason added: “This has been an unnecessary and unhelpful distraction as the Fire Authority prepares to make its decision over the proposal on 10 February.”