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Spending cuts ‘akin to civic murder’ says councillor
9:08am Thursday 6th September 2012 in News
Planned cuts to fire and rescue services would be almost “akin to civic murder” if carried out, according to a Worth Valley parish council chairman.
The comments made by Councillor John Huxley highlighted growing fears over the potential impact of a plan to axe Haworth’s retained fire station as part of a shake-up of fire service cover.
The facility in Station Road is manned by a part-time crew and a recommendation to close it was revealed last month. The plans also include a proposal to reduce Keighley fire station to one fire engine.
Coun Huxley, who chairs Haworth, Cross Roads and Stanbury Parish Council, said: “If they are going to cut Keighley from two fire engines to one, we would not have a hope in hell if there is a traffic jam.
“Haworth fire station doesn’t just deal with Haworth, it deals with the whole of the Worth Valley. It deals with the farming community. To not have that facility would be a real worry. They are hanging Haworth and district out to dry here and it could cost lives.”
Former Keighley firefighter Joe O’Keeffe, who retired earlier this year, described the plans as “atrocious”.
He said the fire service argument that residents were now less at risk due to smoke alarms would fall apart once the alarm batteries run out and are not replaced.
“Keighley is a large area and we’d be left with one full-time engine in Keighley and an engine in Silsden which won’t always be available because it’s part time,” he said.
He warned there had been instances when he and his colleagues were tackling a blaze in Keighley and discovered there were also fires in progress in Silsden and Haworth.
Fire service spokesman Stephen Hardy has previously said the recommended cuts form part of the service’s integrated risk management planning process to review fire cover.
Following a review last year, the decision was taken to replace ten fire stations with five new ones.
Silsden’s retained fire station also lost its second engine in that round of cuts.
Mr Hardy said that over the next two years West Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Authority could face a budget shortfall of around £12 million, so would have to spread resources more thinly.
The authority will consider the latest plans tomorrow and will decide on whether to subject them to public consultation.
Coun Glen Miller, a Worth Valley Ward district councillor and Bradford Council’s Tory group leader, said: "Whilst I appreciate the need to make financial savings in the current economic climate, I question the proposals being made and the impact they will have. I have grave concerns that this review is a review too far.”
Silsden councillors will tonight quiz a fire chief about the proposals.
Bradford district commander Jim Butters will address the town council's fears for the safety of Silsden householders.