Fire stations could be saved after outcry

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Controversial money saving proposals to close fire stations in Matlock and Wirksworth could be scrapped following a public outcry.

Derbyshire Fire and Rescue Service (DFRS) had planned to serve both towns from a purpose–built station in Cromford.

However during a 12–week public consultation on the service’s cost–cutting proposals, residents raised concerns about response times being increased.

Those consulted also felt that present employees would not be able to relocate to the new station and there would be recruitment and retention problems.

Matlock county Councillor Andy Botham 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.”

He said closing Matlock and Wirksworth fire stations would increase response times – endangering people.

Other proposals made by the service included axing 80 full time firefighter roles, closing Bradwell and Hathersage stations and opening a new station in Bamford and closing Ripley, Crich and Alfreton and relocating to the A38.

Of the people consulted, 85 per cent 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 closely with neighbouring fire services and avoid compulsory redundancies through a ‘review of staffing arrangements’.

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’.

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