Fire stations will be axed

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TWO of Sheffield’s busiest fire stations are set to close, in controversial plans being recommended for approval.

A report out today urges fire authority chiefs to give the go-ahead to proposals which, it is claimed, will represent ‘better savings and the least impact on the community’.

None of 16 alternatives put forward by locals during the consultation period have been taken up.

Brigade bosses say the public’s ideas - which included raising council tax for every South Yorkshire household by £23 a year - would cost too much, and put lives at risk.

Mansfield Road and Darnall stations, as well as the retained station in Mosborough, will be closed and replaced with two new bases, one off The Parkway and another in Birley.

The retained station at Royston will be shut, the retained crew at Edlington in Doncaster axed, and three roving pumps which provide back-up when firefighters are out training will be ditched.

Firefighters at quieter stations will work day shifts only, but be based at their stations at night on-call, for extra pay. The plans would mean redundancy for 38 retained firefighters, and 108 firefighter posts lost through retirement.No recruitment is planned for three years.

The final say goes to the Fire Authority next Friday.

Fire chiefs insist they do not want to hit frontline services - but Government cuts mean they must save around £10m before 2015.

Chief Fire Officer Jamie Courtney said: “We thank everyone who has taken the time to give us their views. We have given full consideration to all the proposals.

“We believe none provide the necessary level of emergency fire cover, with the same level of savings. Our recommendation to the authority is they approve the original proposals.

“We don’t want to make these changes. “But, faced with a likely £10m funding cut, we believe they will enable us to reduce our budget with the minimum impact.”

The Fire Brigades Union objected, but did not suggest any alternatives.

FBU official Graham Wilkinson, a serving South Yorkshire firefighter, said: “One of our main fears is the impact these plans will have on attendance times, especially in Mansfield Road and Darnall which are among the most deprived areas of Sheffield and where there is more risk of fire.”

He said the union plans to lobby MPs and councillors ahead of next Friday’s meeting.