Axe to fall on fire station?

D-DAY: The future of Dewsbury Fire Station will be decided today. (d31081106)
D-DAY: The future of Dewsbury Fire Station will be decided today. (d31081106)
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the fate of Dewsbury fire station is set to be decided today as West Yorkshire Fire Authority grapples with big funding cuts.

A meeting of the authority is expected to rubber-stamp a proposal to close Dewsbury and Batley stations and replace them with a single site between the two towns.

No objections were received to the plans, which are part of a county-wide restructuring, during the 13-week consultation period.

Similar merger proposals for stations in South Elmsall and Otley attracted 1,484 and 1,283 objections respectively.

The replacement of Batley and Dewsbury stations is expected to lead to the loss of 24 full-time firefighter posts, although the authority insists this can be achieved through planned retirements.

No firm site has yet been identified for the proposed joint station, although a location in Batley Carr has been mooted.

The report to be considered by the authority says there is ‘significant duplication in fire cover between Dewsbury and Mirfield’ and that a new station would eliminate this while maintaining sufficient cover for the town.

The new joint station would have three appliances – one fewer than the combined allocation of the two current sites.

The fire authority said the plans reflected improvements in fire safety, which means some stations are dealing with only half as many call-outs as they did when the authority was established in 1974.

It is also facing a 25 per cent budget cut over the next four years.

Authority chairman Coun David Ridgway said: “Nobody likes to see a fire station close, some of them have been there for a long time.

“But I think it’s fair to say that the new fire stations will offer as good coverage, and in many cases better.”

The fire authority’s grant from central government is set to fall by £18m up to 2015 and the merger plans are aimed at saving £4m per year in running costs.

The capital cost of closing the 10 existing stations proposed for shutdown and building five replacements is estimated to be £14m.