RESIDENTS and town councils put up a united front last week in a last ditch attempt to save South Elmsall and Hemsworth fire stations from closure.
More than 60 people attended public meetings at the Social Centre, South Elmsall Lane last Monday, and 35 gathered at The Grove, South Kirkby, to complain against West Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Authority’s plans to close down the stations on Barnsley Road and Wakefield Road, and replace them with just one station in South Kirkby.
Leader of South Elmsall Town Council Steve Tulley, said: “These proposals will put more people at risk. There is the possibility of nearly 1,000 houses being built on Westfield Lane in South Elmsall and they have not been taken into consideration with these plans.”
He said it was apparent that he was not the only one with the view.
Coun Tulley said: “It makes no financial sense to close down two stations and build another one that will cost £2m.”
Barry Owen, who served as a firefighter for 30 years across the district attended the South Kirkby meeting.
Mr Owen, 70, of Minsthorpe Lane, South Elmsall, said: “I think the cover they have now in South Elmsall is worse than it was in the 1960s when I joined, so the new proposals are going to make the situation even worse.
“It will put people at risk because as there will only be one fire engine covering both towns, what will happen if another call is received? One will have to come from Pontefract, which is 20 minutes away.
“If plans are to go ahead then we need another engine based at the new station, or for stations to be left as they are.”
Many other residents said they were worried about the cuts, as they felt lives could be put at risk if plans went ahead.
Fire chiefs at the meeting responded to residents’ concerns and said they had £18m worth of cuts that needed to be made. They said risk assessments showed the proposal to be the best solution.
The towns were considered to be low risk compared with other areas in West Yorkshire.
South Elmsall councillor Robert Brown said the number of people who turned up at the meetings showed how passionate people were about keeping the stations in the area.
West Yorkshire Fire Service committee will meet tomorrow to decide whether to follow through with their plans.