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Fire authority approves Wirral station mergers
PLANS to merge fire stations on Wirral have been approved by Merseyside Fire and Rescue Authority in a bid to save millions of pounds.
Members of Merseyside Fire and Rescue Authority agreed the mergers – subject to consultation – at a meeting yesterday, Tuesday.
The measures will affect a number of fire stations in Wirral, St Helens and Knowsley and are said to be needed to deliver savings to help balance an estimated budget shortfall of at least £6.5 million in 2015/16.
West Kirby and Upton fire stations are set to be merged to a new station in Greasby.
Eccleston and St Helens fire stations will be merged into a new station in the St Helens town centre ward, while in Knowsley, Huyton and Whiston stations would be merged into a new station at Prescot.
In a statement yesterday, the authority said: “The decision to merge stations where possible is seen as a better option than closing stations outright as it provides the opportunity to build new and better stations in more appropriate locations.”
The authority has also approved the incremental move to days-only crewing, which will eventually lead to one or more stations being closed in either or both Liverpool and Sefton.
The reduction of six stations down to three is said to enable the service to lose 66 firefighters posts through retirement and deliver savings from reduced premises overheads.
The crewing changes and eventual station closure in Liverpool and/or Sefton will enable 22 firefighter posts to be lost through retirement and premises overheads savings.
Fire and Rescue Authority chairman Councillor Dave Hanratty said: “Merseyside has had the worst funding cuts of any fire and rescue service in the country and in 2015/16 we have to find at least another £6.5 million.
“We have reached the point where we cannot continue without reducing the number of stations we operate. We aim to deliver half the savings from support services, but the majority of our costs come from the frontline so we have to find savings there as well.”
Cllr Hanratty said the merger will allow the authority to build better and more efficient stations.
He added: “The number and distribution of stations across Merseyside has hardly changed since the 1950s while the number of incidents has reduced by more than 50% and the risk pattern has changed dramatically.
“Our current position is that government is indicating the cuts will continue until 2020 so we have to start making plans for structural changes now.”
The changes are subject to a two-stage consultation – an open-end listening phase considering the options and a more formal second phase on the final proposals.
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