Fire cuts

Buxton Fire and Rescue Centre on Staden Lane, which only opened in 2011, could be relocated.
Buxton Fire and Rescue Centre on Staden Lane, which only opened in 2011, could be relocated.

A consultation has launched this week into plans to close fire stations across the High Peak - with the loss of 78 firefighters across the county.

Derbyshire Fire Authority last week approved plans to consult with stakeholders on proposals to transform Derbyshire Fire and Rescue Service’s service delivery for 2022 and beyond.

The consultation, which runs until December 23, is asking for views on: the closure of 19 fire stations; the opening of eight new stations; the relocation of three stations and the introduction of two new retained duty system (RDS) stations; the reduction of the number of wholetime stations to five, with seven wholetime crewed fire engines and a reduction in the number of RDS standalone stations from 19 to 15. This could result in the total number of stations reducing from 31 to 20.

In the High Peak, this would mean stations in New Mills, Whaley Bridge and Chapel-en-le-Frith would be closed, and replaced with a new merged station in Furness Vale, next to the A6.

Stations in Bradwell and Hathersage in the Hope Valley would also be closed, and replaced with a new merged station on Hathersage Road in Bamford.

Glossop fire station would be changed from a wholetime station to a retained duty system station - increasing the response to incidents between 8am and 6pm by four to five minutes on average.

And the state-of-the-art fire and rescue centre in Buxton, which was officially opened on Staden Lane in October 2011, will be relocated to Fairfield Common.

Despite Chief Fire Officer Sean Frayne declaring it fit for purpose for the next 50 years, the consultation document about the proposals states: “The current location of the fire station in Buxton is not considered as the best location.

“The proposed location at or near Fairfield Common will reduce the initial response times to the areas deemed as very high risk and high risk that are located in Buxton.”

The fire authority said the relocation and new build of stations will help them continue to meet a response standard of one appliance in ten minutes on 75 per cent of occasions.

The plans will reduce the wholetime firefighter establishment by 78 posts, which the authority say will be managed by normal reductions through retirement and leavers.

Chief Fire Officer Sean Frayne said: “By ensuring the service has the best available resources, located in the most strategic locations throughout the county, I am satisfied that the service can continue to provide an excellent effective service to our communities.”

The Fire Brigades Union (FBU) are opposed to the plans, and said they will fight them in the strongest way necessary.

Chris Tapp, FBU Secretary for Derbyshire, said: “The FBU are gravely concerned about these proposals.

“Ultimately proposals to cut fire engines, a cut in fire stations and large cuts in the number of full time firefighters across the service, we believe are not what the public of Derbyshire want.”

And commenting on the plans to relocate Buxton’s fire station, he added: “When re-siting a fire station you’ve got to make sure you get it right and clearly this hasn’t been done properly. The money that was spent was taxpayers’ money and we don’t think that is acceptable.”

High Peak MP Andrew Bingham said he will be seeking an urgent meeting with the fire service about the plans, adding: “Buxton Fire Station has barely been operational for two years, so I want to know exactly why they’re wanting to move it yet again - it seems ridiculous to me.

“Spending money to open new stations in Furness Vale and Bamford seems odd, given that we have three stations in the area at the moment.

“I would urge local residents to support my views in the public consultation. It appears as though we are having a re-run of the EMAS ambulance station proposals, which I and residents successfully countered.”

Cllr Caitlin Bisknell, leader of High Peak Borough Council, said: “The Buxton proposals, to spend £3.5 million investing in a brand new fire station two years ago to replace it now, just doesn’t seem to make sense. If it was right two years ago, why on earth isn’t it now? It is an absurd proposal to build another new fire station.

“I can see more sense in bringing the three fire stations in the central area together. I’ve not looked at the proposals in detail yet but I can see potentially some sense in that.”

To read the consultation document, and have your say, see www.derbys-fire.gov.uk.