Saughall Massie residents ask Wirral Council for reasons why greenbelt site suggested for new fire station
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 member of the audience asked why Upton fire station couldn’t just be enlarged? Dan Stephens replied that if they did that, then it would increase response times to the West Kirby station area. He repeated what he had said earlier about how they couldn’t afford two fire stations and it was best to have one as close to the middle of the two existing fire stations as they could get.
Someone asked whether a completed risk assessment had been carried out on the impact on traffic of a new fire station in Saughall Massie? The answer was that such issues would be picked up in a future planning application. The Chief Fire Officer pointed out again that the roads in Wirral were no more challenging than roads elsewhere in Merseyside.
The next woman brought up environmental issues, heritage issues, property prices and said “my life will be definitely be blighted by this fire station” and she wanted to know “how it’s going to affect me here”. The Chief Fire Officer explained that his role was to be held to account for community safety matters. He said that the issues she had raised were ones for a planning committee to consider.
She asked a further question about why the proposal in Greasby had been thrown out and whether that was planning? The Chief Officer answered “No” and explained that they hadn’t got to the planning stage at Greasby. He added that they didn’t own the land at Greasby and the offer of the land had been withdrawn. Such questions would have to be asked of Wirral Council.
David Armstrong (Wirral Council) answered that the Merseyside Fire and Rescue Authority had approached Wirral Council to find a site. Three sites were identified in a built up area, one of which was the one in Greasby. That site didn’t go ahead “for a number of reasons” so they broadened the search out.
Mr Armstrong was next asked what the reasons were that they hadn’t proceeded with the Greasby site. Councillor Chris Blakeley gave his opinion that he thought the Council wanted to “make politics out of it”. Kieran Timmins chairing the meeting reminded Councillor Blakeley that it was not a political meeting.
“What reasons?” was asked again of David Armstrong. He answered, “As the idea developed, as the feedback came from the consultation meetings, as we looked at it more closely and we tried to explore it with the community centre who didn’t sign up to it at all. We looked into issues of grant which we’d had government grant to extend the library and the children’s centre et cetera, et cetera it became obvious that that scheme was not going to work. It was still important to have the consultation which you’re having now. The Council has done no more than cooperate with the fire service to have discussion about the fire safety of 26,000 people.
We started out looking at the sites that weren’t greenbelt and weren’t green space. There were three in Greasby. One was a triangular piece of land next to the cricket club that the Council owned which didn’t work because the fire service for understandable reasons like to have a site where they can take the fire tender in, drive it in, they need a substantial sized site.
We looked at a piece of land that the Council owns next to the second roundabout, not the Sainsburys one, the one nearest Greasby which has a dead-end spur into a piece of land. It’s leased to the Woodland Trust for 100 years. It’s very close to Upton, it didn’t give the fire service the location it needed.
That left us then with the Greasby site. When it became apparent that that wasn’t going to work, we broadened the search out we looked at the greenbelt sites and we presented them to the Fire Authority and that’s all we’ve done to have this discussion and debate because as Dan [Stephens] said earlier the decision will have to be made at the end of the day as to whether that can work in terms of fire safety, whether it would work for the people that live there and all those things would have to be brought together.
The Council has yet to reach a decision on whether to release the land, it will await the outcome of this consultation, that will feed into things and a report that will go to Council. If the Fire Authority wish to pursue this option because they’ve got that decision to make, if they do that, if the Fire Authority come back to the Council and say this is the only option, we’d like to pursue this, the Council will have to make a decision whether or not to release the site.
If the Council did decide to release the site, the Fire Authority then would have to apply for planning permission and an entirely separate process within the Council and that again would address all the issues, the environmental issues, the location issues, the planning issues as well.”
Details of how to respond to the consultation are here. The consultation closes on the 18th May 2015.
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