Fire chiefs have performed a u-turn and have decided to keep Hunslet Fire Station on Dewbury Road open.
The original recommendation put forward by Chief Fire Officer Simon Pilling was to close both Morley and Hunslet fire stations and merge them at a site in between the two, with the area close to the White Rose Centre mentioned as a likely location. The merger would have saved the cash-strapped authority money as it faces government cuts.
But today the Fire Authority has published revised proposals after the public consultation and it is recommending that both Hunslet and Morley remain open in their current locations, with one fire engine removed from Hunslet. The revised proposals would leave Hunslet Station with just one engine.
The news has been welcomed by Hilary Benn (MP for Leeds Central). He said:
“There was rightly a great outcry at the original proposal, and the large number of responses has clearly forced the Fire Authority to think again.
“What local residents served by Hunslet will now want to know, however, is what impact the loss of one appliance will have on local response times.
“I am also calling on the Government to change its proposals for further cuts to the West Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service. These are both unjust and unfair.”
A report says that changing the staffing system at Morley to day crewing – a duty system that provides cover to a fire station during the day and requires firefighters to live within five minutes of the station for incident response at night – would prove more cost effective than closing the stations.
As reported in South Leeds Life back in October, local councillors voiced their concerns over the proposed closure at an inner south area committee meeting. Middleton Park Cllr Judith Blake said:
“A lot of people will require assurances that their service will continue as it is. I am concerned that the work you do in communities will be affected. It takes time to work with older people and in schools.
“There are some really serious question marks about whether you are going to be too stretched to deliver these services.”
A South Leeds Life poll at the start of September saw 66% of respondents say Hunslet Station should remain open