Agenda item

Deputation in relation to the merger of Upton and West Kirby Fire Stations

To consider a deputation of Wirral residents and Councillors concerning the proposed merger of Upton and West Kirby Fire Stations at the site identified in Saughall Massie.


Prior to consideration of this item, the Clerk to the Authority outlined the procedure for receiving deputations, as detailed in the Procedural Rules contained within the Authority’s Constitution.


A spokesperson for the deputation was then invited to address the Authority for up to 5 minutes.


Mr Les Spencer – Chairman of the Saughall Massie Village Area Conservation Society, proceeded to address the Authority on behalf of the deputation, outlining the views and concerns of the residents of Saughall Massie in relation to the proposals to merge West Kirby and Upton Fire Stations at a new site on Saughall Massie Road, Saughall Massie.


Mr Spencer’s address raised a number of points:


·         The significant opposition from residents within the Saughall Massie area to the plans.


·         How the Chief Fire Officer states that the merger is necessary to maintain public safety, however it is acceptable to have West Kirby Fire Station closed on a regular basis. Therefore, it is felt by residents that the issue of public safety may have been exaggerated in an effort to demonstrate the special circumstances required to obtain planning permission on green belt land.


·         The use of an Emergency Response Vehicle as an alternative means of providing fire cover to the West Kirby area - questioning why the Authority don’t use such vehicles when they are widely used by other Fire & Rescue Authorities.


·         The potential conflict of interest in the planning process, with Wirral Councillors making the decision over the granting of planning permission, on land currently owned by Wirral Borough Council, which may result in the Council receiving a commercial price for an otherwise worthless piece of land. Therefore, it was suggested that the main driver for the merger was financial rather public safety.


Mr Spencer also suggested that the Authority were trying to involve Merseyside Police and North West Ambulance Service, in an attempt to bolster their proposals.


After 5 minutes, Mr Spencer was requested by the Chair of the meeting, to conclude his address.


The Chair then asked if any other parties present had an alternative view that they wished to express.


Mr Tommy Hughes stated that he wished to address the Authority to express the view of the Fire Brigades Union on Merseyside and its members.



The Chair informed Mr Hughes that he had 5 minutes to make his address.



Mr Hughes stated that on this occasion, the FBU support the recommendation of the Chief Fire Officer and agree that full appliances available on a wholetime basis provide the safest system of work for firefighters, with safe effective crewing levels; and provide the best emergency response to communities.


Mr Hughes stated that the FBU are fundamentally opposed to the use of Small Fires Units, or Emergency Response Vehicles, as they divert funding away from fully equipped fire appliances. In emergency situations, every second counts; and having such vehicles responding, with limited equipment and resources, severely limits the response that can be provided in such emergency situations.


 Mr Hughes also highlighted that it is not firefighters, the Chief Fire Officer, or indeed the Authority which have caused the current situation; and that it is the Government who have forced the situation that the Authority currently find itself in. It was also highlighted that in light of recent incidents across the world, the cuts to the Fire Service could be seen as being even more severe.


The Chair then stated that Members of the Authority had a further 5 minutes to raise any questions they may have to either party.


Councillor Lesley Rennie asked if the Chief Fire Officer would be provided with opportunity to response to the questions and comments raised. She was advised that all points raised by both parties were covered within items on the agenda and could be picked up during consideration of those items.


Councillor Gladden asked a question of Mr Hughes regarding the amount of fires and RTC’s now attended.


Mr Hughes responded that although the number of fires attended has reduced, given the scale of cuts to the Authority, they no longer have the luxury of having Small Fires Units, as these should only be funded as a supplement to full appliances, never as an alternative. 


Members noted the points raised by Mr Spencer on behalf of the Deputation and Mr Hughes on behalf of the Fire Brigades Union.