Page 19 - HOT NEWS NOV 2014
P. 19
THE FINAL WORD
The start of November saw the beginning of a 12-week consultation on the proposal to close Allerton Fire Station and the relocation of the appliance to Old Swan Fire Station and the continuation of the Wirral station merger consultation.
Whilst closing a fire station is the very last recommendation I want to make to the Authority, the financial situation caused by the cuts to our grant and the limitations on raising council tax means that we now do not have any other option if we want to maintain wholetime staffing. The consultation commenced on 1st November and information can be found on the Merseyfire website along with a newsletter about the proposal and an online survey.
The proposed re-location of the appliance from Allerton to Old Swan, to be crewed on a wholetime retained basis, is intended to provide resilience utilising wholetime firefighters as an alternative to community retained.
Merseyside has a greater density of fire stations than any other fire and rescue service and this density is most evident in Liverpool which has ten stations in a relatively small geographic area.
The option of a station merger in Liverpool however is less viable as there are no pairs of older stations which could be closed and a new station built to replace them. On balance therefore I believe that the outright closure of Allerton is the least impactive option we can pursue at this time.
Over the last ten years, incidents across Merseyside have reduced by 55% (18,428 incidents). Allerton has seen a fall of 64.6% (from 791incidents in 2004/5 to 280 incidents in 2013/14).
Allerton is also one of the Service’s older buildings and would require significant expenditure (over £340,000) in the future to bring it up to the standard of our newer fire stations.
The closure of Allerton would result in the average response time to a life-risk incident on the station area increasing from the current 5 minutes 10 seconds to a predicted 5 minutes 59 seconds. The Merseyside average response time to all life risk incidents is currently 5 minutes 24 seconds. The national average response time for domestic property fires is 7 minutes 24 seconds.
This consultation is one of three that we have held over station mergers/closures in Merseyside. A consultation was held earlier this year on the proposal to merge Huyton and Whiston fire stations and build a new station in Prescot.
The outcome of that 12-week consultation was that the majority of the respondents to our survey considered it reasonable in the circumstances to merge Huyton and Whiston fire stations at a site in Manchester Road, Prescot. The Authority approved the merger at the meeting on 2nd October however the new station is not expected to be operational until March 2016 at the earliest.
Another consultation is continuing in Wirral over the proposed closure of West Kirby and Upton and building a new station on Frankby Road in Greasby. The alternative to the merger is the outright closure of West Kirby.
The consultation commenced on 3rd October and public meetings were held in Greasby, Upton and Hoylake at the end of October. More information about the proposal, including a newsletter about what the proposal will mean and the effect to response times is available on the Merseyfire website.
The third merger proposal is to close St Helens and Eccleston fire stations, and build a new station in St Helens town centre. A potential site for a new station has still to be confirmed and consultation will be carried out once one is identified.
We did receive some good news at the end of October with the announcement that we were successful in our bid for Government funding for £4.5m to contribute towards the cost of the station mergers.
I must stress again however that all of these proposals represent the least impactive option to pursue and will not improve response times.
I understand that all of these consultations and station closures will increase feelings of uncertainty and concern amongst staff, whether they are firefighters or non-uniform, but we will continue to communicate with you as effectively and as regularly as we can on all proposed changes.
Dan Stephens
Chief Fire Officer
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