Consultation on fire station closure ends

Eccleston Fire Station
Eccleston Fire Station

A CONSULTATION that could result in the closure of fire stations in St Helens has come to an end.

Merseyside Fire and Rescue Authority (MFRA) has said it needs to make changes to cope with budget cuts and asked the public to consider two proposals between August 3 and October 25.

The first proposal would see Eccleston and St Helens fire stations closed and replaced with a new community fire station on Canal Street, St Helens. The alternative option is the outright closure of Eccleston fire station.

The MFRA has said that whichever proposal is chosen, one of the two current fire appliances will remain available 24 hours a day and the second will revert to retained; available on a 30 minute recall to duty and crewed by wholetime firefighters on their days off. The second appliance will provide resilience during periods of high demand.

Moving to the Canal Street site and converting one wholetime fire appliance to wholetime retained would allow for a reduction of 22 wholetime firefighter posts, which equates to a £864,000 annual saving, the MFRA has said.

The firefighter posts would be lost through natural turnover (retirements) and reserves would be used to avoid compulsory redundancy.

The Fire and Rescue Authority does not consider that the proposals represent a general improvement in service and would not be proposing either of the two options if it was not required to do so to make the necessary financial savings.

Chief Fire Officer Dan Stephens said: “We have now concluded the 12-week consultation over fire cover in St Helens.

“I would like take this opportunity to thank everyone who took part in the consultation by attending the public meetings or completing questionnaires.

“A report will now be produced on the outcomes of the consultation process which will be submitted to Merseyside Fire and Rescue Authority for their consideration.

“Unfortunately we have no choice but to make structural changes in order to deliver the necessary savings”.

“The authority has had to make savings of £20 million over the past four years as a result of cuts in our Government grant.

“In 2015/16 we have been required to make further savings of over £6 million and we expect there will be further significant grant reductions over the remainder of this Parliament.”

The outcomes of the consultation will be reported back to the Merseyside Fire and Rescue Authority in December.