WEST Somerset MP Ian Liddell-Grainger has accused Devon and Somerset fire service officials of ‘relying on bean counters’ to justify the withdrawal of fire cover in Porlock.

And he is demanding to know how much consultation was carried out locally before the Porlock station’s closure was adopted as one of the main planks of the service’s proposed programme of economies.

The measure is included in each and every one of the eight money-saving options Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue Service has drawn up – and has sparked a huge campaign in and around the village, where local families say it will massively increase the fire risk to properties and lives.

But Mr Liddell-Grainger said all eight scenarios had been prepared as nothing more than a 'desktop exercise' by the service’s external auditors, Grant Thornton.

“So it’s been left to the bean counters to look at the figures, do the sums - presumably on a cost/benefit basis – and come up with this ridiculous suggestion,” he said.

“To then brand the consultation ‘Safer Together’ is a cynical exercise which would be almost comic were the potential outcomes not so serious and, indeed, tragic.

“But the time for consultation with the people of Porlock was before this list was even compiled, not after it had been presented with Porlock fire station’s closure looking very much like a fait accompli.

“Did the bean counters visit Porlock? Did they take soundings as to the views of local people?

"Did they look at how the assumptions they have made for providing cover from neighbouring stations would actually work on the ground, rather than simply looking at a map?

"Did they bother to find out how isolated Porlock can become in bad weather?

“The only thought that has gone into any of this is about how to save money."