Councillors to decide soon on starting 12 week consultation on closure of West Kirby and Upton fire stations

Councillors to decide soon on starting 12 week consultation on closure of West Kirby and Upton fire stations

Councillors to decide soon on starting 12 week consultation on closure of West Kirby and Upton fire stations


Merseyside Fire and Rescue crew 2nd September 2014
Merseyside Fire and Rescue crew 2nd September 2014

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).

The report and nine out of its ten appendices can be found on the Fire Authority website.

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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Wirral Council Cabinet to decide contractor for Cathcart Street Primary School/Children’s Centre

The Lib Dem/Conservative Cabinet will next Thursday decide upon a contractor for the refurbishment of Cathcart Street Primary School, creation of a new Children’s Centre here (as reported by the Liverpool Echo) and provision for holidays/after school clubs.

The Cabinet report suggests they choose Paragon Construction for the project.

Waiving of call-in is also requested on this decision, so that the project can be started right away (depriving the Labour Party to have a further meeting within two weeks stating why they’d be against over a million pounds worth of investment in this school). The plan is that the contractor will start over the Easter break which would be impossible without waiving call-in.

The project raises a number of questions which I will be asking of Cabinet:-

a) Will the contract specify that local employment has to be used (or a % of local employment)? Is this what “Provision will be made within the contract for Targeted Recruitment and Training (TRT) so that Wirral Council can continue the policy of developing a Construction Employment Integrator (CEI).” means at 9.7? 12.2 states “The successful constructor will be encouraged to employ local labour and source materials from local suppliers as far as possible.”, but does this mean they will?
b) What’s the scale of the bonus the contractor would get for completing on time?
c) Considering the tendency of construction projects to take longer and cost more, what controls are in place to ensure it comes in on time and budget?
d) A number of construction companies contracted on the Wirral have gone bust part way through a project. For example the project to reconstruct the West Kirby Marine Lake or the new medical centre on Laird Street. What alternative arrangements are in place regarding this eventuality and has the financial background of the preferred contractor been looked into?
e) What can other Wirral schools learn from the green elements of the design in helping combat climate change, reducing their carbon footprint and saving Wirral Council money?