Fire station mergers now a step closer

Shaun Woodward MP with Eccleston fire crew
Shaun Woodward MP with Eccleston fire crew
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Cost-saving plans to merge St Helens and Eccleston fire stations moved a step closer last week after massive budget cuts were agreed.

Fire chiefs plan to axe both stations and create a new firefighting base in St Helens town centre - but a 12-week consultation period will only begin once a suitable site has been identified.

Whiston and Huyton fire stations are also set to be axed and a new base created in Prescot, with dozens of jobs - including firefighters and back office staff - at risk.

Across Merseyside, up to 100 firefighters and between 40 and 50 back office staff are set to lose their jobs as the service battles to save £6.5m by 2016.

Fire bosses also voted for a 1.99 per cent increase in the service’s share of the council tax bill.

Coun Dave Hanratty, chair of the Fire and Rescue Authority, said: “We have made huge reductions in management costs and support services but the Government has left us with no option but to cut our frontline services even further. Our firefighter numbers will reduce from 1,500 a decade ago to less than 700 by the end of 2015/16.

“With support from our local MPs, we have lobbied hard to stop further grant cuts but the Government has only partially listened.”

Chief fire officer Dan Stephens added: “We will continue our dialogue with political leaders and the public, particularly in the merger areas, but we have few options left open to us.”