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Posted by: John Brace | 24th September 2013

West Kirby and Upton Fire Stations face axe in Merseyside Fire and Rescue Authority savings proposals

West Kirby and Upton Fire Stations face axe in Merseyside Fire and Rescue Authority savings proposals

                           

Last weeks Regeneration and Environment Policy and Performance Committee spent nearly thirty-four minutes discussing Merseyside Fire and Rescue Service cuts without mentioning the specifics of what has been already been agreed by the Merseyside Fire and Rescue Authority. The debate starts about two minutes into the meeting.

On 3rd September Merseyside Fire and Rescue Authority (Wirral Council’s represented on this body by Cllr Denise Roberts, Cllr Lesley Rennie, Cllr Steve Niblock and Cllr Jean Stapleton) agreed the following recommendations:

1) The Authority must identify strategic mergers that allow operational response to be maintained whilst improving community and firefighter facilities and reducing costs.

Having assessed the location of the newer stations and the operational response needs of the service the Chief Fire Officer has identified that the two key geographic options where strategic mergers should be considered following consultation are:-

a) Wirral:

Merging West Kirby and Upton to create a much improved station with extensive community facilities at Greasby, which would allow response standards to be maintained whilst improving the capability for community partnerships.

In addition, consideration might be given to the opportunities for the future development of Heswall. This site is commercially attractive and working with private/public partners may create opportunities to improve facilities or relocate services.

….
(ii) Request the Chief Fire Officer to report back with detailed proposals on:-
(a) Options for Station mergers in Wirral

I presume by report back it means to the next meeting of the Merseyside Fire and Rescue Authority on the 22nd October 2013. The Regeneration and Environment Policy and Performance Committee did agree to invite Chief Fire Officer Dan Stephens to a future meeting to “highlight the potential impact of the Government proposals on the residents of Wirral” but ultimately the decision on Merseyside Fire and Rescue Service’s budget for next year is in the hands of the local councillors on Merseyside Fire and Rescue Authority (current composition fifteen Labour, two Lib Dem and one Conservative). Merseyside Fire and Rescue Authority could decide to raise Council Tax to offset the need to make these kinds of cuts to Wirral’s fire cover. If Merseyside Fire and Rescue Authority propose (when they set their budget in February 2014) raising the amount of Council Tax spent on fire services by more than 2% compared to last year (which is not enough to offset the decrease in government grant) then it would trigger a Council Tax referendum of Merseyside residents. Currently an assumed 2% rise is in their financial calculations so it seems likely that the proposed cuts on Wirral will go ahead unless savings are found elsewhere.

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Responses

  1. Surely it would have made more sense to close heswall and Wallasey.

    • Heswall is included in the proposals. Wallasey covers a large area (by population) of the Wirral and if closed or relocated would massively affect their response times. So I doubt Wallasey would ever be considered for closure while that’s still the case.

      • I don’t think it should be based on population but the urban morphology including access roads etc. Wallasey could be served from Birkenhead and Heswall from West Kirby, But Upton could cover the large estates on Woodchurch,Moreton and Leasowe as well as Arrowe Park Hospital.

        • If I remember correctly, the report to the fire authority stated that the population of Merseyside is lower than when the network of fire stations was designed and that they receive much fewer calls than they used to.

          If I remember correctly they send out two fire engines to each call in case one gets stuck in traffic, which is why it makes sense to have both Wallasey and Birkenhead fire stations.

          • I’m a retired Wirral firefighter who has worked at both Upton and West Kirby stations. The reason why two appliances are sent to a house fire is for the firefighters and the publics safety. A single crew of five is not enough to tackle a persons reported house fire and MFRS often run appliances which should be staffed by five with four. A second appliance attending in good time is vital for the safety of the first crew, the saving of life and the reduction in fire damage to property. A new station based in Greasby serving Upton and West Kirby makes sense but my concern is that it will be built as a two pump station which is needed for fire cover on Wirral and the temptation will be to reduce it to a one pump station when further cuts are made in future years. Heswall is only open and in it’s present location to service Neston for Cheshire FS. It is badly located for providing fire cover on Wirral.

            • Does two pump station mean there’d be two fire engines based there?

              • Yes, but it doesn’t mean that they will both be staffed 24 hrs per day.

            • On the subject of Heswall fire station, it’s Merseyside taxpayers (along with a grant from central government) that pay for its operation.

              If its main purpose is to attend to fires in Neston, surely Cheshire Fire Service should contribute to its running costs or does that already happen?

              • I believe that Cheshire pay something towards the running of Heswall. The Labour Government scrapped the statutory use of turnout times after the 2003 national fire strike which necessitated Heswall staying open to service Neston. The old turnout times required one appliance to a house fire within 4 minutes. Cheshire’s nearest stations are Ellesmere Port and Chester. Those times are no longer in use allowing Fire Authorities to close stations or relocate them and provide a downgraded service.

  2. Anyone know where they would build station in Greasby?

    • Probably the other half of Upton meadow by Sainsburys,there is already an exit spur from the Roundabout at the end of the by-pass. A bit daft really its only a ‘spit’ away from the Upton station!

      • I thought when the Sainsburys was built there they promised to keep the rest as Green Belt which would prevent development? I know what you mean about the phantom exit leading nowhere off that roundabout. Until a final decision is made next February by Merseyside Fire and Rescue Authority about the future of Upton and West Kirby fire stations and planning permission is applied for a new station in Greasby, I don’t think we’ll know for sure where they’d plan to put it.

        • Green Belt? Don’t you know that the morally bankrupt council treat this the same as listed or heritage status. The recent past evidences this to me,look at Liscard Hall,Woodside hotel,Bath Cottages and Ingleborough fields.

          • Well their planning policies still require special circumstances to build something on the Green Belt, but based on past decisions a fire station would probably be considered as special circumstances.

            • Unles things have changed,I understand that Home Office buildings and Hospitals are generally exempt from planning.

              • A fire station is neither a Home Office building or a hospital though…

                • It was-so times have changed

      • The bulk of Upton Meadow is on a long lease (80-odd years to run) to the Woodland Trust.

    • Ideally it needs to be built away from residential properties so as not to disturb the public when turning out and returning at night. Greasby is highly populated so finding a suitable location will be very difficult. The Cat public house are selling their car park for a Tesco Local. It wouldn’t surprise me if MFRS buy the whole plot, demolish the pub and build there.

      • Surprisingly its not Tescos,although their occupation of Wirral is akin to an occupying force of the Wehrmacht! It is Sainsburys who have a store only a mile away. There is more density of housing than on the bypass location which is a few hundred yards away from the Upton locarion.

  3. Hi – I know that this is a quite old thread but I thought I would try to revive it after reading the ‘News from Esther McVey’ leaflet today. Does anyone know any more about this mythical Fire Station? Have the budgets mentionned earlier on in this thread been decided? Thanks all.


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