Fire chiefs look set to abandon cost-cutting proposals to close scores of stations across Derbyshire – after a public outcry.
Derbyshire Fire and Rescue Service (DFRS) had planned to close 19 stations across the county – including in Dronfield, Matlock and Alfreton – and axe 80 full-time firefighter roles.
In addition, the plans suggested closing Chesterfield’s recently-opened multi-million pound Braidwood Way base – and opening a new station elsewhere in the town.
But those controversial proposals could be scrapped after a 12-week public consultation revealed 85 per cent of residents disagreed with the plans.
A report to be considered by members of Derbyshire Fire Authority today (Thursday) states: “Taking account of the consultation feedback, it is recommended to maintain the recently-built stations and to look at station closures as a last resort.”
The report adds DFRS would work more closely with neighboring fire services and avoid any compulsory redundancies through a “review of staffing arrangements”.
Chesterfield MP Toby Perkins, who called on DFRS to rethink its proposals, said he was “very pleased” by the news.
He added: “I said the plans were illogical and I’m glad DFRS looks set to reconsider. At least they appear to be listening to the public.”
Mr Perkins said the service – which needs to cut £4.4million by 2017 – would make significant savings if proposals for a new shared headquarters by DFRS and Derbyshire police in Ripley go ahead.
Lee Rowley, Conservative parliamentary candidate for NE Derbyshire, added: “NE Derbyshire residents led the way in opposing these prlans – demonstrating the importance of retaining Dronfield fire station in the future.”
Councillor Andy Botham, county councillor for Matlock, said: “I think it’s wonderful news they are reconsidering the options – there is very strong opposition from members of the public.
“I hope the fire service will be able to make savings in other areas without cutting frontline services.”
Derbyshire Fire Brigades’ Union said it was “cautiously very pleased” with the announcement.
Voicing fears about the staffing review, a spokesman added there was “no point in fire stations if there is nobody working in them”.
What people said in the consultation...
Proposals to relocate Chesterfield station and close Staveley station
“Respondents thought it was a waste of money to relocate the newly-built station at Chesterfield. There was some opposition to the closure of Staveley station, but support for it to become a retained station to support Chesterfield.”
Proposals to close Dronfield station
“Respondents overwhelmingly opposed the closure of Dronfield station citing the expanding population and the response times for Chesterfield to get to Dronfield especially in peak traffic periods. There was a petition opposing Dronfield’s closure.”
Proposals to close Matlock, Wirksworth and Bakewell stations and open a new station in Cromford
“Respondents were concerned about the response times from the proposed new station at Cromford and the ability to cover all the area. They felt that present employees would not be able to relocate to the new station and there would be recruitment and retention problems.”
Proposals to close Bradwell and Hathersage stations and open a new station in Bamford
“There is a perception that the response times and risk will be higher than the estimations provided and that the number of road traffic collisions has increased in the area. This lead to the respondents wanting to keep both of the current stations. There is doubt as to whether DFRS would be able to recruit
from the Bamford area.”
Proposals to close Ripley, Crich and Alfreton stations and relocate Ripley station to the A38 junction
“There was an acceptance that Crich could be closed. There was a split between whether the merged station should be at Alfreton or Ripley.”