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Two Wirral fire stations face closure under cost-cutting plan
4:47pm Thursday 27th February 2014 in News
Two Wirral fire stations are facing closure under a raft of controversial measures designed to cut costs.
At its budget meeting this afternoon, Merseyside fire authority approved plans that will see stations in West Kirby and Upton merged in to a new unit at Greasby.
The measures - which will also merge stations in St Helens and Knowsley – are needed to meet Government cuts and balance a budget shortfall of £6.3m by 2016.
The reduction of six stations down to three will be coupled with the loss of up to 100 Merseyside firefighters and around 50 back-office staff.
Mark Rowe, secretary of Merseyside Fire Brigades Union, which represents rank-and-file officers, told the Globe further cuts would have “disastrous consequences”.
He said: “We are in a position where we have had year after year after year of reduction in fire cover on Merseyside to the point where now it’s our belief the public of Merseyside are in danger - in their homes, in their workplaces and on the roads.
“We have reduced the amount of firefighters by nearly half over the last decade down to 786 and we have got rid of 14 fire appliances since last September.”
Chief fire officer Dan Stephens in a recent letter to the Globe, said that if land could not be found in Greasby, the next option would be to consider the outright closure of West Kirby.
“Upton is a key station from an operational response perspective – West Kirby is not," he wrote.
“Put simply, a ten-minute response circle around Upton covers more of West Wirral than a ten-minute response circle around West Kirby which would cover a large element of the River Dee.
“There is no option that the authority can pursue on Wirral or anywhere else on Merseyside that will not have a detrimental effect on performance.”
He added: “I certainly do not want to have to make these recommendations to the authority, and the authority certainly does not want to have to action them.
“But we are no different to the rest of local government in that we are required to deliver significant savings.”
An extensive consultation process now will be undertaken with all “stakeholders” across West Wirral.
A 1.99% increase in the fire service's precept on council tax bills was also approved.