Bushey Fire Station campaign: Closing station will be 'shameful and a disgrace' (From Watford Observer)
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Bushey Fire Station campaign: Closing station will be 'shameful and a disgrace'
Closing Bushey Fire Station will be "shameful" and "jeopardise whole communities", according to angry residents at a public meeting last night.
Representatives from Hertfordshire’s Fire and Rescue Service, the county council, and Hertsmere Borough Council were at the meeting in St James’s Church, in High Street.
Dozens of residents attended the forum, which was organised by Save Bushey Fire Station Community Action Group after proposals were put forward to the county council to close the retained fire station.
Neil Ellis, of Ashlyn Close, said the decision to close the Rudolph Road station was based purely on financial considerations.
Mr Ellis said: "This is solely about saving money. It’s shameful and a disgrace. £97,000, this is what it’s all about. It’s all about saving £97,000 a year."
The Integrated Risk Management Plan 2014-18, which outline proposals to close the part-time station, were submitted to county council politicians in July.
Mr Ellis said: "We have got real people and we’ve really invested in these people. These people are champions of our community. I don’t think you can measure people against plans."
The fire service was criticised for failing to increase staffing levels at Bushey Fire Station, which currently has seven fire fighters, four of whom are full time crew members elsewhere.
However, Hertfordshire Fire and Rescue Service’s deputy chief fire officer, John Mills, said: "Increasing the staffing levels at Bushey Fire Station will automatically increase their costs. The calls aren’t there for them to attend."
When the senior officer was asked whether he thinks the people of Bushey would be safer with or without a fire station, Mr Mills said: "If you want my honest opinion, you’re safer since 2009 when Watford Fire Station moved.
"Removing Bushey Fire Station will not put any lives at risk."
Dozens of residents attended the forum last night
Hertsmere’s MP, James Clappison, also spoke at the meeting, saying he thinks some important questions need to be answered to ensure the capability of fire fighters in the borough and county are not hindered.
Mr Clappison said: "I’m very concerned about the capability we have for fire fighters in Hertsmere and Hertfordshire on the whole."
Between April 2012 and March 2013 Bushey firefighters attended 11 emergency calls, five of which were fires.
Hertfordshire County Council’s cabinet member for community safety, Richard Thake, was also present at the meeting and said the council was "not in a position to throw away money in a careless way."
Mr Thake added: "Frankly, when we put a substantial investment into Watford it was fairly obvious that it would have a dramatic effect upon the distribution on call out."
Steven Oakes-Monger, who campaigned against Radlett Fire Station’s closure, said: "The facts are that, with the loss of Radlett Fire Station, and if Bushey Fire Station were to close, there would be an enormous gaping hole in fire cover in Hertsmere."
He added: "The loss of any fire station is a disaster, but to lose two is absolute madness and will jeopardise whole communities."
A public consultation is currently underway and is due to end later this month.
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