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West Kirby and Upton Fire Stations face axe in Merseyside Fire and Rescue Authority savings proposals
Last weeks Regeneration and Environment Policy and Performance Committee spent nearly thirty-four minutes discussing Merseyside Fire and Rescue Service cuts without mentioning the specifics of what has been already been agreed by the Merseyside Fire and Rescue Authority. The debate starts about two minutes into the meeting.
On 3rd September Merseyside Fire and Rescue Authority (Wirral Council’s represented on this body by Cllr Denise Roberts, Cllr Lesley Rennie, Cllr Steve Niblock and Cllr Jean Stapleton) agreed the following recommendations:
1) The Authority must identify strategic mergers that allow operational response to be maintained whilst improving community and firefighter facilities and reducing costs.
Having assessed the location of the newer stations and the operational response needs of the service the Chief Fire Officer has identified that the two key geographic options where strategic mergers should be considered following consultation are:-
Merging West Kirby and Upton to create a much improved station with extensive community facilities at Greasby, which would allow response standards to be maintained whilst improving the capability for community partnerships.
In addition, consideration might be given to the opportunities for the future development of Heswall. This site is commercially attractive and working with private/public partners may create opportunities to improve facilities or relocate services.
(ii) Request the Chief Fire Officer to report back with detailed proposals on:-
(a) Options for Station mergers in Wirral
I presume by report back it means to the next meeting of the Merseyside Fire and Rescue Authority on the 22nd October 2013. The Regeneration and Environment Policy and Performance Committee did agree to invite Chief Fire Officer Dan Stephens to a future meeting to “highlight the potential impact of the Government proposals on the residents of Wirral” but ultimately the decision on Merseyside Fire and Rescue Service’s budget for next year is in the hands of the local councillors on Merseyside Fire and Rescue Authority (current composition fifteen Labour, two Lib Dem and one Conservative). Merseyside Fire and Rescue Authority could decide to raise Council Tax to offset the need to make these kinds of cuts to Wirral’s fire cover. If Merseyside Fire and Rescue Authority propose (when they set their budget in February 2014) raising the amount of Council Tax spent on fire services by more than 2% compared to last year (which is not enough to offset the decrease in government grant) then it would trigger a Council Tax referendum of Merseyside residents. Currently an assumed 2% rise is in their financial calculations so it seems likely that the proposed cuts on Wirral will go ahead unless savings are found elsewhere.
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