Merseyside Fire and Rescue Service abandon plans to appeal refused planning application for Saughall Massie fire station but await decision on revised planning application by Wirral Council’s Planning Committee with interest
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Below is a transcript of what was said at a public meeting yesterday of councillors on Merseyside Fire and Rescue Authority about the station mergers project. Above is video for that item (with a subtitle track).
MFRA Merseyside Fire and Rescue Authority
MFRS Merseyside Fire and Rescue Service
Cllr Dave Hanratty (Chair, MFRA): Item 8 was the err update on the station merger, mergers, Phil?
Phil Garrigan (Deputy Chief Fire Officer, MFRS): Thanks Chair and again a personal report is provided, a progress report to Members on the station mergers project up to the end of April 2017 and the recommendation that Members note the report.
Err and I’ll keep this relatively brief because the content of the err update is contained within, other than to say work has commenced at Prescot, err I’ll draw to your attention to paragraph nine which says, “All foundations and ground beams have been laid and the concrete errm slab has now been poured as of the 26th of April 2017. The retaining walls for the approach road are in place and steel work has started and has been put in place through the period of May.” and we are looking at now a completion date for the new Prescot site which as clearly Members will be aware is a fire station, police station colocated and that work is looking to be completed March 2018 and that is on schedule.
With regards to Saughall Massie and the proposal to put a planning application in, to errm build a fire station, err on West Wirral, a revised planning application was submitted to Wirral Metropolitan Borough Council on the 13th of March and formally validated on the 28th of March ’17.
Err as part and parcel of that application we sort of err sort of addressed some of the concerns that were raised, err through the refusal of the initial planning permission and as a result of that we have reduced the overall size of the fire station by some 30%, err sorry, yeah by 30%, the overall size of the site, the fire station itself by some 10% and realigned some elements of the building itself so it’s simply smaller. We’ve also significantly improved some of the errm, the layout of the site and the landscaping associated with some of the concerns that were raised.That planning submission that we believe is going to Planning Committee on the 22nd of June errm where it will be considered and we’ll inform Members subsequently with options available to us to refer it to the Secretary of State, if we’re unsuccessful through that process but as Elected Members will be aware, we are hopeful that that planning application will be successful and we’ll be able to build a new fire station in Saughall Massie, which will be able to serve as part of the Wirral, which may be affected should we not be able to be afforded that opportunity. With regards to Saint Helens, err and a number of conversations that we’ve had with Pilkingtons who own the site at Canal Street.
Subsequently, the site, or the initial site that was proposed has been withdrawn by Pilkingtons, however Pilkingtons have offered us a further site, which is not you know too far away from the original site, at Watson Street. When we’ve looked at the analysis in regards to our operational response, from Watson Street as opposed to Canal Street, it’s actually a more preferable err base from which to respond. So again, those conversations have been had and discussions are progressing, err nicely. We’ve also extended those discussions as part of our collaborative err duty to Merseyside Police and North West Ambulance Service and then so this was really some conversation with Saint Helens err Council.
As a result of those conversations, Merseyside Police have made it clear that they’re not necessarily in a position at this moment in time to progress around a collaborative endeavor there. However North West Ambulance Service would seem a little keener, but they have yet to come back to us and we’re expecting a response from them err within the next seven days when they can potentially seek to put a make ready facility at St Helens colocated with Merseyside Fire and Rescue Service, but again that is yet to be determined.
Irrespective of those matters, we will be on site relatively shortly at Watson Street in Saint Helens to do some basic sampling of the land there to establish any remediation you know that will be required as part and parcel of the build. Again, you know our relationship with Pilkington was very good, Saint Helens Metropolitan Borough Council is very good and we are keen to progress to build a new station er as described at Watson Street in Saint Helens.
Other than that Members will probably the rest of the detail is contained within the report itself but I’m happy to take any questions on any particular issues.
Cllr Dave Hanratty (Chair, MFRA): OK, thanks for that report.
Unknown councillor (MFRA): Thanks Chair, yes could I just ask Phil about this err thirty percent decrease on the Saughall Massie site and the building? I mean that’s a significant decrease and yet you’d still got to get everything still in there, the kit and the engines. How’s it going to work out practically?
Phil Garrigan (Deputy Chief Fire Officer, MFRS): Yeah, it’s the overall site that we’ve reduced by thirty percent, the station by around ten percent, so it is reduced in size, let’s be absolutely clear about that and some of the kind of the training facilities would be compromised as a result of that, as will some of the facilities that we provide from, from the operational crews. But we’re trying to kind of have, you know manage the footprint of the building, the aesthetics in relation to the kind of responses that we’ve received from the Planning Committee and equally we’ve took on board some of the kind of recommendations from the planners themselves to say, well actually this might be more aesthetically pleasing if you did this, if we moved some things like the car park over, which was you know adjacent to some of the housing in that location, that we’ve moved that to the back. We’ve moved some of the general spacing and so on and so forth, we’re trying to be as flexible as we possibly can be to some of the kind of concerns that were raised in the first instance, without preventing it being an operational base from which to function from.
Err but to be reflective of the comments that have been made, up to this point because it’s really important to get you know a response base from err the Saughall Massie area in terms of West Kirby and Hoylake. Thank you.
Dan Stephens (Chief Fire Officer, MFRS): And just to add to that, I too have serious reservations about this. However you shouldn’t underestimate the need for this fire station to maintain response times into west Wirral. Hence, why against my better judgement, I’ve arrived at this. Which is why, we pursued this route instead of the going straight to the Secretary of State which would’ve been the route that we err, could’ve taken.
But err credit to Phil [Garrigan] and Colin Schofield, who really have err, they have done everything they possibly can do to address those err the issues that were raised at the err Planning Committee. Well as I say, and I’ll say again for the record, I have some err quite serious reservations about the extent to which we are compromising the functionality of that err that fire station.
But again, we’re going to have to do that, because we err, because we need it to maintain response times.
Cllr Dave Hanratty (Chair, MFRA): OK, errm this is just an update report and we’ll have further reports as we go on with the err, with the schemes and obviously the outcome of the Planning Committee when it meets on the 22nd June, so hopefully we’ll be successful. We’ll wait and see. Errm, so that concludes the business. Errm could I just ask Members just to stay for just and officers for just a couple of minutes, because the Chief wants to give us just a brief update of obviously the events of err what happened in Manchester on Monday and obviously how err as an employer on Merseyside, we have to do that in closed session unfortunately? So if any members of the public, press or public can I just ask to leave? Peter? Err.
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