Chief Fire Officer: Upton is a key station from an operational response perspective - West Kirby is not (From Wirral Globe)
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Chief Fire Officer: Upton is a key station from an operational response perspective - West Kirby is not
9:32am Wednesday 26th February 2014 in Letters
I AM writing in response to the letter from Liberal Democrat Peter Reisdorf published in the February 19 edition to correct a number of inaccuracies contained therin.
The Fire and Rescue Authority is not considering the closure of the fire stations at Heswall and West Kirby.
On December 3, 2013, the authority considered a report outlining options to make further savings in 2015/16 beyond the £20m required between 2011/12 – 2014/15 (from a budget of £70m).
The report highlighted the fact that when faced with further in year savings of £6.5m in 2015/16 the closure of stations was now inevitable.
My professional recommendation to the authority was that the least detrimental option is to merge stations as an alternative to outright closures.
In Wirral this would involve the merger of Upton and West Kirby.
The optimum location for a new station on West Wirral would be at Greasby.
For the avoidance of any doubt, this would involve the closure of West Kirby and Upton and the building of a new station in Greasby subject to a suitable site being available.
Since that meeting on December 3, I have made four presentations to councillors on Wirral in committee and to party groups explaining the financial challenge faced by the authority and the operational rationale underpinning my professional recommendation as to how best they should meet this challenge.
On every occasion I have explained that my professional recommendation is made on operational logic alone and takes no account of whether land might be available for a new station.
I have also made it clear that if land cannot be found in Greasby then the next option for the Authority to consider would be the outright closure of West Kirby.
Upton is a key station from an operational response perspective. West Kirby is not.
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.
I certainly do not want to have to make these recommendations to the authority, and the authority certainly do not want to have to action them.
We are no different to the rest of local government in that we are required to deliver significant savings.
There is however a consequence of taking out capacity and for the Fire and Rescue Authority that is an increase in response times.
I have offered to speak personally to any MP, councillor or community representatives on Merseyside to explain in detail the challenges faced by the authority.
That offer stands and I would encourage the Liberal Democrats to work with me and the authority to ensure we achieve the best possible outcome for Wirral on what is clearly a very challenging issue.
In any event, as soon as the authority has a firm option, whether that be a merger involving a new station in Greasby or the outright closure of West Kirby, an extensive consultation process will be undertaken with all stakeholders across West Wirral.
Dan Stephens, Chief Fire Officer, Merseyside Fire and Rescue Service.