Councillors to decide soon on starting 12 week consultation on closure of West Kirby and Upton fire stations
A key meeting of the Merseyside Fire and Rescue Authority will decide on Thursday 2nd October 2014 whether to consult on the closure of Upton and West Kirby fire stations (on the Wirral). Fire officers are asking councillors (which includes four Wirral Council councillors) to agree on consultation on the closure plans.
If politicians agree to a consultation it will run from the 3rd October 2014 for twelve weeks.
One of the more controversial aspects to this closure plan is it involves building a new fire station on Frankby Road, Greasby on a piece of land now owned by Wirral Council (used for a library, children’s centre (there is a current consultation on closure of these run by Wirral Council), community centre and other uses.
Negotiations between Wirral Council and Merseyside Fire and Rescue Authority have been ongoing for some time. If the consultation went to plan and the other two fire stations closed, the site on which the library, community centre and children’s centre would be cleared. In its place a new fire station, library and community space would be built. Indicative floor plans might be available by the date of the meeting on Thursday.
Agreement in principle to a lease from Wirral Council to Merseyside Fire and Rescue Authority has been given by Wirral Council officers, but no action will take place until the consultation has taken place.
After the consultation, a further report will come back to the Merseyside Fire and Rescue Authority in order for a decision to happen. However closing two fire stations will lead to an increase in response times. There will however be a saving in salaries (of about £900,000 a year) by having one fire station instead of two.
Building a new fire station at Greasby will cost about ~3.45 million, however this could be offset by selling the land that Upton and West Kirby fire stations are now on. Mersey Fire and Rescue Authority is hoping to get a DCLG grant of £1.5 million towards the cost of building the new fire station and will hear back from DCLG on that towards the end of the year.
Any difference will be met from reserves built up in part by a underspend in last year’s budget. The capital costs of the project (appendix H) are being kept secret for commercial reasons (whether this is the Fire Authority itself, DCLG and/or a third-party is a little unclear).
Wirral Council now have four representatives on Merseyside Fire and Rescue Authority. These are Labour (3) Cllr Denise Roberts, Cllr Jean Stapleton and Cllr Steve Niblock and Conservative (1) Cllr Lesley Rennie.
Currently the makeup of the committee that will make a decision on Thursday in Bootle comprises up of 16 Labour councillors, 1 Lib Dem councillor and 1 Conservative councillor.
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