Fears over new fire station plans

Fire station, Barnsley Road, South Elmsall.'h4310a624
Fire station, Barnsley Road, South Elmsall.'h4310a624

COUNCILLOrs fear the loss of fire stations at Hemsworth and South Elmsall will leave people vulnerable when new homes are built.

The West Yorkshire Fire & Rescue Authority has announced proposals to close the two stations and build a new one at South Kirkby.

The authority faces budget cuts of up to £18m over the next four years, and believes the shake-up could help to save a vital £4m a year.

It also considers Hemsworth and South Elmsall to be “low-risk” areas where demand for services has fallen over the last five years.

The authority is now consulting the public on its proposals - which it agreed upon at a meeting last Friday.

But Coun Laurie Harrison said the plans did not account for the hundreds of new homes set to be built in the area.

He said: “You can’t take services away when new houses are being built. There are 800 being proposed in South Elmsall and if there are emergencies then there needs to be a timely response. Cover needs to be continued.

“We see this station as an iconic building that has served us well for over 70 years.”

Coun Glyn Lloyd said he was “concerned” that not enough information was available yet.

He said: “We cannot consult properly until we know where the new site would be and what the call-out times would be.”

Earlier this year the authority suggested the Hemsworth Road area would be suitable for a new station. It now says 12 retained duty system jobs will be lost in the move.

And it said a new station might not be opened until 2017 due to possible delays with land purchase and planning permission.

But they said the new station would increase community safety activities such as home fire safety checks.

Chief Fire Officer Simon Pilling, who ordered a review of fire cover last year, said: “If we are to continue to provide the highest level of service in the current climate we must move resources rapidly to where they are needed the most.

“We can’t afford to be precious about buildings and outdated ways of working.”

People are invited to make comments on the plans before December 9.

Write to Stephen Hardy, Consultation Co-ordinator, West Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Authority, Oakroyd Hall, Bradford Road, Birkenshaw BD11 2DY, or email stephen.hardy@west yorksfire.gov.uk