PLANS to shut ten fire stations including ones at Brighouse and Elland have been given the green light but “with a heavy heart”.
West Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Authority on Friday agreed to close the stations and build five new ones, which includes one in the New Hey Road/Clough Lane area of Rastrick, in a bid to save £4million a year.
Councillor David Ridgway, who chairs the fire authority, said: “The fight with Whitehall for fairer funding goes on and we embrace the support for that campaign from the Fire Brigades Union. But the authority can’t shake off its responsibilities by simply blaming others.
“The bottom line is that, whatever the circumstances, we have a duty to provide and maintain the best fire and rescue service that resources will permit.”
However, Councillor Ridgway emphasised that important as the changes were they would merely bridge a proportion of the projected four-year funding gap and that the search for further savings would continue with a fundamental management restructure beginning in the New Year.
Chief Fire Officer Simon Pilling said he fully understood the concerns of people who had objected to the proposals but remained convinced that the plans were operationally sound and in the best long-term interests of the brigade.
“Of course we could have sat back, grumbled about our grant allocation, and done nothing but the reality is that we haven’t had the cash to recruit since 2009 and are fast approaching the point where we will not be able to crew the full fleet,” said Mr Pilling.
“Many of our fire stations would then become glorified garages, unable to turn out an appliance.
“My proposals will spread us a little more thinly but still enable us to deliver a first-class emergency service across the whole of West Yorkshire. No one is more disappointed than me that we are having to make such fundamental changes, so fast, but no credible alternative has been put forward.”
Yorkshire Ambulance Service NHS Trust has also confirmed that it has no plans at this moment in time to close Brighouse Ambulance Station.