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Bradford MP seeks answers over fire cut 'risks'
7:00am Friday 14th September 2012 in Bradford
A Bradford MP has called for top-level meetings with fire and union chiefs to demand answers over the planned closure of two fire stations in the district in a cost-cutting plan.
David Ward, the Liberal Democrat MP for Bradford East, will meet West Yorkshire Chief Fire Officer Simon Pilling and Fire Brigades Union representatives today following fears that closing the stations may pose “a risk” to businesses, elderly people and those living in high-rise flats in his constituency.
Mr Pilling announced plans to save the brigade about £8million earlier this month, in a massive shake-up which will involve the closure of stations across the county and the loss of 200 firefighter jobs.
The proposals would mean the current two fire stations that cover Shipley and part of Mr Ward’s constituency be merged, with a new fire station built between the existing stations.
Mr Ward said: “By closing the two existing fire stations, the risk to my constituents is being increased in the top half of the constituency.
“In my meeting with the West Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service I will raise that they need to re-look at these proposals.”
He said there had been no discussion over the possible risk to high-rise flats, the sewerage works and the George Barkers and Company refrigeration manufacturer, which has its headquarters in Highfield Road, Idle , and employs about 450 people.
Mr Ward said: “There is no mention of the risk to high-rise flats in the area and the threat to George Barker and Company needs to be properly analysed and mitigated.
“I need to understand these proposals so I have invited both senior fire officers and the representatives of the Fire Brigade Union to my office for talks.
“These current proposals pose as many questions as they answer. What exactly are the risks to residents and businesses? “If there is to be a new fire station, where will it be and when?”
Tim Sagar, health and safety and environmental manager for George Barker and Company, said the firm had its own contingencies should there be a major fire at the factory.
However he said the company had built up a “close working relationship” with its local fire station, which is about 500 metres away in Highfield Road.
Mr Sagar said: “As part of our emergency response procedures, we have to factor in response times for the fire brigade, so we need to know what is happening.”
A spokesman for West Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service said the number of incidents in the Idle and Shipley areas has reduced by more than a third over the last five years.
She said Mr Pilling welcomed public debate on the planned closures after the start of a 12-week consultation, which began on September 7.
She said: “Our consultation document provides details on proposals to continue to provide an efficient and effective fire and rescue service whilst acknowledging the challenges posed by fundamental changes to public sector funding.”