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Strong response leads to station closure plan halt

By Ashbourne News Telegraph  |  Posted: February 11, 2014

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FIRE stations will only be shut as ‘a last resort’ in Derbyshire, according to the county’s Fire and Rescue Service.

The fire service had proposed to close 19 stations across the county in a bid to save at least £4.4m by 2017.

But, after a 12-week public consultation, the service is considering altering its restructuring plans and the service’s authority will meet tomorrow to discuss the results of the feedback and what the service should do to move forward.

Among the changes, Ashbourne looked set to lose one of its two fire engines and it was due to be replaced with a smaller vehicle.

It is hoped the change of heart following the huge response could lead to a U-turn in the decision to axe the second unit.

It was also proposed that stations near to Ashbourne might be closed or move, which our fire and rescue officers worried would lead to delays in assistance reaching them on big rescue operations.

The consultation found 85 per cent of people disagreed with the proposals – with major concerns being reduced response times, closure or movement of recently built stations and the recruit and retention of full-time staff.

A report by Derbyshire Chief fire officer Sean Frayne, which takes into account the consultation feedback, states the authority’s plans for the future service delivery are to ‘maintain the recently built stations and to look at station closures as a last resort, subject to the financial position the authority faces on central Government’s financial settlements.’

It also states the service aims to minimise the number of job losses through a review of staffing arrangements.

The organisation will instead aim to continue discussions with neighbouring fire and rescue services on the provision of ‘over the border’ services.

More than 800 members of the public, 87 fire service employees and 31 organisations responded to a survey on how they thought the future fire service should be delivered.

The Fire Brigades Union also handed in a petition containing more than 36,000 names objecting to all of the proposals.

The fire service had previously proposed closing all three of the city’s fire stations – Nottingham Road, Kingsway and Ascot Drive – and replace them with a single station near the junction of Uttoxeter New Road and Great Northern Road, costing an estimated £1m.

But, following the consultation, it has revealed that ‘respondents were concerned about the perceived waste of public money’.

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