Saughall Massie residents express their opposition to fire station plans at first consultation meeting
Merseyside Fire & Rescue Service consultation meeting Saughall Massie 20th April 2015 Part 1 of 4
Merseyside Fire & Rescue Service consultation meeting Saughall Massie 20th April 2015 Part 2 of 4
Merseyside Fire & Rescue Service consultation meeting Saughall Massie 20th April 2015 Part 3 of 4
Merseyside Fire & Rescue Service consultation meeting Saughall Massie 20th April 2015 Part 4 of 4
Merseyside Fire & Rescue Service consultation meeting Saughall Massie 20th April 2015 Playlist of all parts 1-4
A consultation meeting in Saughall Massie to hear from the public on a proposed new fire station in Saughall Massie Road started badly when over a hundred people who came to the meeting were turned away from the St Marys Centre because the meeting was full. Despite repeated requests at the start of the meeting by a local councillor for a further meeting in Saughall Massie, Dan Stephens (Chief Fire Officer) refused to commit himself to a further public meeting however did say it was something he would “carefully consider”.
The Chief Fire Officer explained that if Upton and West Kirby fire stations were closed, then in his view (although people didn’t have to agree with him) a new fire station would be needed near the midpoint of the two existing fire stations. If a new fire station wasn’t built in Saughall Massie and only West Kirby fire station was closed, then it would lead to an increase in response times to the former West Kirby station area. He made it clear that after the consultation was finished the final decision on what happens next would be taken by the Merseyside Fire and Rescue Authority, who would have to consider public safety and response times. The views expressed at the public consultation meetings would be reported back to the Fire Authority.
The first person who asked a question felt that gridlock in the roads around Saughall Massie at certain times and narrow roads would lead to an increase in response times if a new fire station was built in Saughall Massie. The Chief Fire Officer responded that he felt the traffic conditions “were no worse than they are anywhere else on Merseyside”.
Continuing with his question the same person pointed out that twice a day the road from Saughall Massie to West Kirby was blocked by cattle being moved between fields. He suggested that they look for brownfield sites instead.
The Chief Fire Officer explained that they didn’t have compulsory purchase powers and that as they’d already been through a consultation on Greasby that the matters needed to be resolved. He said that if West Kirby fire station was closed and Upton kept open, then the fire engines (from Upton) would need to travel down the same roads to the West Kirby area.
Another member of the public pointed out that the number of incidents responded to by the fire service was falling year on year. She asked if Upton fire station could be used for less callouts?
Dan Stephens replied that it wasn’t the number of incidents that was important but the type of the incident. There were 26,000 people living in the West Kirby station area, therefore “it’s an absolute certainty we will have another domestic property fire”. In his view it didn’t matter that the total number of incidents were going down, but as long as people lived there, there would be incidents. He said, “It’s about run times, not numbers of incidents.”
The next person to ask a question pointed out that the map showing response times of Saughall Massie versus Upton showed that from Upton, an over 10 minute response time would be mainly to fields and a golf course. Replying to his point, the Chief Fire Officer said that there was still a good proportion that was an 8 to 9 minute response time compared to only 6 to 7 minutes from Saughall Massie.
A resident of Saughall Massie said that she wasn’t in agreement with a new fire station in Saughall Massie and that “if you feel that that’s the best place you have to prove it to everybody”. Dan Stephens replied that they couldn’t afford two fire stations, but could only have one. That one fire station would have to be in the middle.
The next question was from the secretary of the Saughall Massie Conservation Area Society. He said he was not going to talk about conservation or greenbelt, but response. His question was if BRVs (brigade response vehicles) would be considered? The Chief Fire Officer explained that the brigade response vehicles weren’t of much use in responding to a domestic property fire or a road traffic collision. He pointed out that West Midlands Fire and Rescue Authority could afford BRVs, but Merseyside Fire and Rescue Authority couldn’t. BRVs were for antisocial small fires, but would have to be manned by three extra people that they couldn’t afford.
A further question asked was why couldn’t the council tax that pays for the fire service on Merseyside be increased by £5? The answer given was that to do that would require a referendum which would cost an estimated £2 million.
The Chief Fire Officer was then asked if he would consider other options such as BRVs? He said he would not consider them as they “give me absolutely nothing in terms of operational response” and that he would be “paying for an asset that gave me absolutely nothing”.
The next woman referred to a petition about the closure of West Kirby fire station and speculation about plans for a multi-storey shopping centre there. Dan Stephens said that there had been no consideration of the disposal of the site at West Kirby because no decision had yet been made to close it. The same woman referred to the “Greater Concourse plan”. David Armstrong (Assistant Chief Executive, Wirral Council) said that “there are no current plans for anything at the West Kirby site”.
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