Merseyside faces fire station closure in bid to save £6 million
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10 December 2014
Allerton fire station (part of Merseyside Fire and Rescue Service) may close next year, as the service looks at making savings of more than £6 million.
At a public meeting this week, Chief Fire Office Dan Stephens said: “I don’t want to do this any more than you do. Merseyside is the third most expensive service by grant in the country and all main Government parties are committed to eradicating debt in the future."
The proposed closure is part of a plan to make savings of £6.3 million in 2015/16, in response to further Government Grant cuts to the Authority, in addition to savings of £20m since 2011/12.
While £2.9 million of savings will be found from reductions in management structures, support services and back office staff, the remaining £3.4 million will have to come from emergency response and this will require three station mergers and a station closure.
Merger proposals have been announced for other stations in Merseyside, but in Liverpool, a closure rather than a merger is considered the most appropriate way forward. The cuts could mean the loss of 40 non-uniformed staff, who will face compulsory redundancy, as well as 90 firefighters.
Stephens said: “Unfortunately, given that we can no longer afford to employ sufficient numbers of wholetime firefighters to keep all of the stations open, an outright closure is now inevitable. Merseyside has a greater density of fire stations than any other fire and rescue service and this density is most evident in Liverpool. Neighbouring stations to Allerton are so closely located that they already provide good cover for Allerton.”
Mark Rowe, the secretary of the Fire Brigades Union, commented: “We are simply devastated. “In Merseyside over the years, we have lost more than half of our firefighters. We will be campaigning to keep Allerton open.”
Allerton station watch manager Mark McCaig added that they would do anything they could to save the station.
There is a 12 week consultation period for the proposals which ends on 26 January.
Another meeting is planned in Allerton before the end of the year.
Commercial buildings, non-domestic and multi-occupancy premises in England and Wales are already forced to undertake a 'suitable and sufficient' fire risk assessment carried out under the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005.
While the overwhelming majority of premises do this, if the assessment is thought to have been carried out to an insufficient extent, the Responsible Person can face an unlimited fine or up to two years in prison.