A meeting in Haworth tonight could decide the future of its fire and rescue service.
Villagers have been urged to attend the event and the parish chairman says that if their plans for community-run fire cover do not get enough support they will have to go back to the drawing board.
Haworth’s retained station was earmarked for closure under plans released by the fire service last year. But after thousands of letters of objection, the service announced those plans were on hold for at least two years.
With the station’s future still far from secure, the parish council stepped in and proposed to turn it into a community-run station, operating a “first responder” style service.
They will wait for the result of tonight’s meeting to see how to take this plan forward.
West Yorkshire Deputy Chief Fire Officer Steve Beckley has called the idea a “very exciting project”.
If the idea gets public support, the station would be run by the community, and complement, rather than replace, the fire service. Volunteers would operate like the ambulance service’s First Responders, called out to incidents in addition to fire engines, but likely to arrive there first because of their proximity.
Council chairman John Huxley said: “This is a crucial meeting for the whole of the Worth Valley, including Oakworth and Oxenhope.
“If we want to go ahead with some kind of community emergency service we would need the village’s support, and volunteers to help us run it. Whatever happens we have to let people know there will be a financial cost. If we want our own fire cover, then we’ll have to pay for it.
“We seem to have support from the fire and rescue service, but unless the people of Haworth support the idea there is not much we can do.”
He believes a decision to take on such a responsibility would be unprecedented for a local community, and added: “There are people way up at Government level who will be watching to see what we decide.”
If the public support the idea, the council will approach the Fire Brigades Union and MP Kris Hopkins to see what Government support would be available.
The meeting, at West Lane Baptist Church, starts at 7.30pm.