Fire station saved?

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Fire chiefs could be set to abandon cost-cutting proposals to close Belper and Duffield fire stations – after a public outcry.

Derbyshire Fire and Rescue Service (DFRS) had lined up propsoals to close the two stations and replace them with a single new one in Milford. Staff numbers would be cut from 25 to 17 as well.

However, this and many other controversial proposals could be scrapped after a 12-week public consultation revealed 85 per cent of residents in the county disagreed with the plans.

The county’s fire service has to slash £4.4 million by 2017 after a cut in the amount it receives from central government, and shutting stations is on the agenda for consideration.

Derbyshire Chief Fire Officer Sean Frayne had said stations would only be closed as a “last resort”.

The plans are due to be discussed at a Derbyshire Fire Authority meeting tomorrow Thursday, February 13.

Responses received from the public during a consultation, saw people express concern that Belper’s historic mill would be further from fire cover – currently the fire station is opposite the historic buildings. They were also worried choosing Milford for a new station would make it difficult to recruit people to man retained crews as they needed to live very close by to be effective. They also said land on the A6 at Milford, where the fire station is proposed, was Greenbelt.

In the event of closures, people felt the move to Milford was pointless due to the small distance from the current Belper and Duffield stations and the large cost of building a new station.

Mr Frayne has proposed maintaining recently built stations. Duffield was built in 2013. He said: “Faced with continuing reductions in funding, we must now target our reduced resources to where they are needed most.”

Peter Makin, a Belper North Mill trustee and former chairman of Derbyshire Fire Authority, said: “Grouping things around a central point may look good on paper, but I think it would be a grave mistake. There are about 10,200 homes in the Belper area and I think we would get a very poor service for the amount of money we pay.

“If there is a major incident we need the speed of operation. We carried out a fire simulation at Belper North Mill in 2009 and we need to have the speed of response. From little acorns mighty oaks grow and it could damage our heritage forever.”