08:00 Saturday 14 December 2013

Fire plans pose 'serious risk', say council chiefs

Written byROB SMYTH

South Derbyshire District Council councillorsJohn Harrison South Derbyshire District Council councillorsJohn Harrison

COUNCIL chiefs have said that there could be ‘serious risk’ to South Derbyshire families if a major overhaul of the fire service is allowed to take place.

South Derbyshire District Council has rejected Derbyshire Fire and Rescue Service’s proposals for future reductions that would see the closure of Melbourne Fire Station and major changes at Swadlincote Fire Station.

Senior figures believe proposals were based on a ‘misunderstanding’ over future development in the area.

John Harrison, deputy leader of the district council, said: “We recognise that the fire authority needs to make substantial cost savings but this must not be done by making excessive reductions in this critical service.

“The current proposals are based on deeply flawed assumptions.

“We have asked for a meeting with Derbyshire’s chief fire officer, Sean Frayne, to help him decide how best to balance service and cost in one of the fastest-growing districts in the country.

“The plan for the reduction of Swadlincote from a fully manned to a part-time service is based on a misunderstanding of future housing and industrial development in the council’s draft local plan, while the closure of the Melbourne station is based on an over optimistic first response time from the new Derby station.

“In its proposals for South Derbyshire, the service says that 6,469 new homes are to be built in the area.

“The possible growth outlined in the council’s draft local plan is for around 13,400 more houses between 2008 and 2028.

“Due to national housing market conditions, only 1,700 have been built so far – leaving 11,700 still to be constructed.

“The actual figure for allocated business sites is 54 hectares rather than only the 15 hectares in the service’s consultation document.”

A spokesman for the service said: “We welcome comments and views from all stakeholders regarding the consultation.

“It must be stressed that the proposals within the consultation are only proposals at this stage and the service would like to hear what alternative suggestions respondents have to the proposals put forward.”

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