Plan to close fire stations approved

Eccleston Fire Station
Eccleston Fire Station
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PLANS to close both the town's fire stations and build a new one have been approved.

Merseyside Fire and Rescue Service (MF&RS) confirmed that the closure of Eccleston and St. Helens stations as it seeks to save £11million while having its Revenue Support Grant cut by 47 per cent over the next 5 years after inflation.

A new facility will be built on Canal Street, in St Helens town centre.

Chief Fire Officer, Dan Stephens, said: ‘The fire and rescue service is the only emergency service which has not been protected from the cuts.

“The latest round of government cuts further challenges our ability to maintain the safety of the public.

“The current level of emergency response cover is already under pressure and these additional cuts will make further reductions in whole-time appliances and therefore closures of fire stations inevitable.

“Our Firefighters and support staff will continue to do all we can to keep the people of Merseyside safe, but the ongoing cuts to our funding make it increasingly difficult to do so.

“We now have no alternative but to identify what are the least worst options for emergency response cover across Merseyside.”

The service has already been forced to make significant cuts in recent years, resulting in station closures across Merseyside and over a 33 per cent reduction in the number of fire engines, firefighters and equipment available.

There are now only 24 “whole time” fire engines to cover the whole of Merseyside.

Despite this huge reduction in resources, the service has maintained the fastest response times to dwelling fires of all the Metropolitan Fire and Rescue Authorities in the UK and carried out more than 40,000 Home Fire Safety Checks across Merseyside this year to keep people safe.

However, MF&RS has said that this latest round of cuts will inevitably put these achievements at risk over the next five years as the service faces the significant challenges ahead.

A consultation was held to find out whether the public supported this option or a second proposal to close Eccleston fire station outright.