Station closures up for discussion

Eccleston Fire Station, Millfields, Eccleston which could be in line for the axe because of Government funding cuts
Eccleston Fire Station, Millfields, Eccleston which could be in line for the axe because of Government funding cuts

CONTROVERSIAL proposals to close a St Helens borough fire station will be discussed by service chiefs later this month.

As a result of budget cuts, Merseyside Fire and Rescue Authority (MFRA) is considering two options which would have implications for fire cover across the town.

One option is an outright closure of Eccleston station, the other is to merge it with St Helens and build a new site on Canal Street.

The proposals will be subject to a 12-week public consultation period following a MFRA meeting on June 
30.

Chief Fire Officer Dan Stephens said: “The proposals are intended to minimise the impact of the cuts and maintain as fast a response as possible to all parts of St Helens district.

“Over the last four years, MFRA has had to make savings of £20m as a result of government spending cuts and now the Authority is required to make a further £6.3m savings in 2015/16.

“The Authority will face very significant further financial challenges over the course of this Parliament which will become clear following the emergency budget in 
July.”

The consultation will involve public meetings at locations in Parr, St Helens town centre and Eccleston, a stakeholders’ meeting in St Helens, three focus groups and a joint forum, the fire authority added.

An MFRA spokesman added that the proposals will not have a significant impact on response times.

Adding: “The current mean average response time to a life risk incident on the St Helens station area is five minutes 51 seconds.

“The current mean average response time to life risk incidents on the Eccleston station area is five minutes 40 seconds.

“This is significantly quicker than the MFRA 10-minute response standard and the maintain mean average response time of seven minutes 24 seconds which is only for dwelling fires and does not include traffic 
collisions.

“If St Helens and Eccleston fire stations closed and a new fire station was built on Canal Street then the mean average run time to life risk incidents on the St Helens station area would be five minutes 26 seconds.

“The mean average run time to incidents in the Eccleston station area from Canal Street would be four minutes 47 seconds - one minute 57 seconds quicker than the alternative outright closure of Eccleston fire 
station.”

Last year stations in Whiston and Huyton were closed with crews now based at a new site in Prescot in a similar move as has been suggested for Eccleston and St 
Helens.

The meeting of the fire authority next week will determine whether the consultation period will go ahead.

If approved, the 12-week period would then start on June 30.

The fire authority said: “Following the conclusion of any consultation, a further report would be submitted to the MFRA detailing the outcome and any operational implications.”

Adding: “St Helens has seen a fall of 51.75 per cent (1,888 incidents attended in 2005/6 to 911 in 2014/15).

“Eccleston has seen a reduction of 47.21 per cent (841 incidents attended in 2005/6 to 444 incidents attending in 2014/15).”