North Wales Fire Authority rules out cutting Deeside Fire Station to day time staffing only
Drastic cuts to the fire service that could have seen stations close and Wrexham lose its second appliance have been ruled out.
Members of the North Wales Fire and Rescue Authority met in Conwy today and voted to open a consultation with the public on how to make up a £1.9m budget shortfall.
Three options were considered, including funding the gap entirely from money provided by councils, using a mixture of internal savings and council money, or large-scale cuts that would have seen fire stations closed.
The third option, which Chief Fire Officer Simon Smith said would have increased the risk to the public, included Wrexham losing its second fire engine, the closure of one or more retained fire stations, and changing Deeside and/or Rhyl 24-hour shift stations to day staffing only.
But this option was ruled out by members.
Mr Smith said: “As an authority, you have been under severe financial pressure for the best part of a decade.
“Within that, we have kept those pressures confined to those efficiency savings which have not had an impact on the public.
“So the bottom line is we have got our own house in order before we have gone to the point where we need to look and consider cuts to frontline services.
“But each year I have said the time when push is going to come to shove is going to come, and this is that time.
“The bottom line is in terms of risk it’s very difficult to quantify as our activity levels cannot be predicted with the same accuracy as other emergency services.”
Cllr Geoff Lowe, who represents Acton in Wrexham, felt that expecting councils to fund any shortfall would be difficult as they are already struggling with budget problems.
He said: “We are facing austerity measures and we have all been saying this for the last nine years.
“I thinks it’s so important for the public to have their say. What concerns me is once again there is another year where we are looking into the abyss.
“As a local councillor for Wrexham, we are looking into the abyss where we have cut back and cut back and it’s the same on many other local authorities. We’re struggling.
“Talking about fire appliances, if our road services in some parts of Wrexham continue to deteriorate at the rate they are doing the fire appliances will struggle to get there.”
Councillors agreed to open a consultation on how the public would like the service to make savings, which will run over the summer.
By Shane Brennan – Local Democracy Reporter
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