'Weaselly, short-sighted' - Strong words as Rugby council launches counterattack against plan to remove ambulance

WMAS maintains that the removal of the ambulance will not affect patient safety

Rugby Town Hall, where the meeting will take place on Monday.
Rugby Town Hall, where the meeting will take place on Monday.

Rugby council leader Seb Lowe spoke in very strong terms today as he told the Advertiser of his concern over the plan to remove the last ambulance stationed in Rugby.

The plan was revealed to the Advertiser when sources contacted us to share grave concerns.

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When one sources was asked if people will die as a result of it they said 'yes', adding that they believe people are already dying because of past reductions to the number of ambulances stationed in the town.

Rugbeians reacted to the news with fury, and a petition (click here to access it) calling on West Midlands Ambulance Service (WMAS) to scrap the plans has gathered more than 2,500 signatures in just two days.

Rugby MP Mark Pawsey, along with several Rugby councillors have been in touch to share their concerns, and earlier this afternoon we spoke with Cllr Seb Lowe to get his reaction.

"I could be wrong because I am human - but I absolutely fail to see how removing the last ambulance from Rugby cannot have a negative impact on response times," he said.

"I find this absolutely horrifying - and I am not aware of anyone on the council who doesn't share my view. I doubt the people issuing statements on this even agree with it."

WMAS previously stated that the Rugby-based ambulance only attended 3.4 per cent of the emergency calls made in the town in the first six months of the year, with ambulances from other areas attending the remaining 96.6 per cent.

This, they argued, meant that removing the ambulance would make little difference.

Before that statement was issued, a source told the Advertiser that WMAS would use that figure to justify the change - but they argued that the figure shows that Rugby's ambulance is severely over-stretched, rather than it not being worth keeping.

Cllr Lowe addressed that argument, saying: "I am speaking not just as a councillor, but as a resident who has children and vulnerable family members and has had to use the ambulance service more times than I would care for.

"It is absolutely weaselly and short-sighted to hide behind that 3.4 per cent statistic.

"If having an ambulance in our town would save even one life a year it would be important.

"To then say that this 3.4 per cent figure doesn't matter is horrifying.

"Every single person in those 3.4 per cent of callouts will be terrified, their families will be terrified."

The Advertiser has spoken with Rugby Lib Dem leader Cllr jerry Roodhouse and Labour leader Cllr Maggie O'Rourke, and both have the same concerns.

All three political groups appear to be united on the matter - and the Advertiser understands that it will be brought up on Monday's Overview and Scrutiny Committee meeting.

"The job of our Overview and Scrutiny Committee is to analyse complex problems like this," Cllr Lowe said.

Cllrs Roodhouse and Lowe said the result of this meeting may be that Rugby council calls on a representative from WMAS to come to the town and explain to councillors why this decision is being made.

Earlier today the Advertiser informed WMAS of the huge public reaction to the plans and asked if they would now reconsider them. At the time time of publication we have not received a response.

See the full background - including WMAS' initial response, by clicking here.