16:54 Thursday 13 February 2014

Fire service scrap plans for closures

Written bySARAH BOULD

FIRE stations will only be shut as a ‘last resort’ in South Derbyshire under newly approved plans.

Derbyshire Fire and Rescue Service bosses had proposed to close 19 stations in a bid to save £4.4 million by 2017.

These included Melbourne station, as well as making Swadlincote a part-time operation.

But those plans have now been shelved after a public consultation found 85 per cent of people disagreed with the proposals, which also included axing dozens of firefighter jobs.

Yesterday, members of Derbyshire Fire and Rescue Authority approved fresh ideas. These include maintaining recently built stations and looking at station closures as a last resort, non-replacement of firefighters who leave the service, use of reserves to fund ‘invest to save’ projects and continued discussions with neighbouring fire services about sharing resources to drive down costs.

They will also look at increasing the use of smaller response vehicles to save money, and attending fewer ‘non-emergency incidents’.

They also came up with boosting income through means such as searching for sponsors.

South Derbyshire MP Heather Wheeler had sent a detailed letter to Derbyshire Fire and Rescue Services detailing her objections and concerns.

She said: “This is wonderful news for the people of South Derbyshire, who deserve the very best support and provision of fire services.

“I would also like to say a big thank you to all of those who submitted responses to the consultation. Without them these decisions would not have been made.”

Future plans could also see the service sharing a headquarters with Derbyshire Police in Ripley.

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