EXCLUSIVE: When did Merseyside Fire and Rescue Service request a new screening opinion for controversial Saughall Massie greenbelt fire station?
Last week Merseyside Fire and Rescue Service applied to Wirral Council for a screening opinion for land off Saughall Massie Road it wants for a new fire station.
The screening opinion application (SCR/17/00313) which can be viewed on Wirral Council’s website by entering the application number is identical to an opinion request Merseyside Fire and Rescue Service submitted last year.
Screening opinions do not go through the normal planning application process as there is a legal requirement that they area dealt within weeks. In response to a screening opinion request last year Wirral Council deemed the greenbelt location was not “environmentally sensitive”.
Although plans for a fire station are opposed by the local Conservative ward councillors in Moreton West and Saughall Massie ward, Wirral Council’s Leader Cllr Phil Davies has made his support for a fire station at this greenbelt location public.
Cllr Phil Davies represents Birkenhead and Tranmere ward. In 2015, the Merseyside Fire and Rescue Authority chose to transfer land to Wirral Council valued at £250,000 to £325,000 for a nominal sum for a youth club called the Hive Youth Zone. The Hive is expected to become operational later this year in a marginal Green/Labour seat.
Merseyside Fire and Rescue Service’s former Deputy Chief Executive Kieran Timmins previously offered Wirral Council the land for the Hive Youth Zone in Birkenhead a land swap for the land the Merseyside Fire and Rescue Service wanted (then in Greasby). Although this offer was not taken up.
Following public opposition at Greasby the land (owned by Wirral Council) was withdrawn by Wirral Council. A planning application just before Christmas for the land at Saughall Massie was turned down by a 7:6 vote of councillors.
If a planning application for a new fire station at Saughall Massie is approved, Wirral Council look set to gain an estimated £300,000 windfall from the sale of the land. Merseyside Fire and Rescue Service have received a £1.5 million grant from the government towards the costs of the fire station merger proposals on the Wirral.
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