Planners are being asked to allow the retention of a temporary portable building which provides a standby point for ambulance crews in Aston for another five years – with a warning that response times to medical emergencies may suffer if it has to be removed.
The building was installed at Aston fire station ten years ago, with planning permission to last for a period which is about to expire.
As a result, Rotherham Council is being asked to grant an extension of five years by Yorkshire Ambulance Service, which operates a network of 12 similar bases for its crews across South Yorkshire.
They were introduced as a ‘hub and spoke’ response to the needs of the public by ambulance service bosses who were under pressure to meet Government targets for ambulance response times.
The logic is that basing ambulance crews away from their stations on the fringes of densely populated areas with good road networks will allow them to get to where they likely to be needed as quickly as possible.
Practical results show that works in South Yorkshire, with response times for the district improving from a low point some years ago, when YAS was recorded as the worst ambulance trust in the country for hitting response times.
Planning application documents from YAS warn that: “The loss of this facility serving ‘hot spots’ could adversely affect the provision of emergency care to the area.”
They also state that if permission to keep the building, which is used as a rest area and re-stocking point for ambulance crews, was declined it may not be financially viable to replace it with another elsewhere.
“In the event that a planning application to renew permission for a stand-by unit is unsuccessful, the cost of relocating one of these units is subject to additional land charges depending on whether the unit is sited on public or private land as rates for utilising private land in the majority of cases is higher,” the report states.
“It is likely that the Yorkshire Ambulance Service would be unable to financially support unnecessarily moving stand-by points in the current climate on the basis of the costs involved and therefore considers it vital that this unit is able to remain operational at this location.”
A decision will be made later on whether to grant consent for an extension.