FEARS are growing that fire service changes in Ulverston could put the public at risk – even though they mean the town will have full-time crews for the first time.
Cumbria County Council’s plans to re-model fire and rescue provision have been branded disruptive, costly and dangerous by local councillors.
Dalton’s fire station will close in June and five crew from Barrow plus a fire engine will move to Ulverston.
However, several members of Ulverston’s current 18-strong retained crew will not keep their jobs.
The reshuffling of crew and equipment is supposed to save £64,000 a year, but this is being seen by many as a false economy.
With no facilities to house the new permanent crew members, portable cabins will be used at The Ellers site for up to three years, costing £34,000 a year to rent.
Severance pay must also be paid to the decommissioned crew members.
Concern is spreading among Ulverston councillors, who said resources were being spread too thin.
County and district councillor James Airey said: “The fire service has taken a £500,000 cut from the budget. It’s an important front-line service that shouldn’t be taking a hit. Until a disaster happens we will never know if we can deal with it. This could be bad for the area.”
Town councillor Norman Bishop-Rowe is worried the changes will cause traffic chaos and disturbance to local residents.
“There’s nowhere on The Ellers for the crew members to park,” said Coun Norman Bishop-Rowe, who was a traffic officer for seven years.
“If they have to park there, on a main road between the town and the A590, it will cause major blockages. It’s a public safety issue. It would also disturb the high number of elderly people who live in sheltered accommodation on the road.”
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But Bob Nixon, head of operational support at Cumbria Fire and Rescue Service, refuted the claims.
“Moving a full-time fire engine to Ulverston is going to improve our fire and rescue capability in the town and surrounding parts of the Furness peninsula. It will mean quicker response times to thousands of properties,” he said.
“There are no plans to leave temporary accommodation in place for an extended time. We are exploring options, including making permanent changes to the current station and potentially building a new station.
“The location of the temporary accommodation will not affect parking, and noise disturbance for local residents will be kept as minimal as possible.”
The changes are scheduled to take place on June 30.