Friday, 03 April 2020

999 hub could save fire station

RESIDENTS of Wargrave are being asked to say whether they want to save the village fire station.

The Victoria Road station has been threatened with closure since April 2017 and was given a third and final chance to survive by the Royal Berkshire Fire Authority in December.

The authority needs to find savings of £422,000 in its budget for the financial year beginning on April 1.

The station is required to improve the crew’s availability to 60 per cent by June in order to avoid closure.

The response rate improved dramatically at the start of last year to 46.4 per cent from as low as 3.2 per cent, but this has fallen again due to the loss of several experienced staff.

Councillor Graham Howe told a meeting of Wargrave Parish Council that it should explore the idea of a “blue light hub” with all the emergency services.

Cllr Howe, who is a member of the fire authority, said: “We had to fight quite hard against the closure and now it has had a third stay of execution.

“The bottom line is it can stay as a fire station, or become a blue light hub, but if we leave the decisions until June then it will be too late, so we need to discuss this now. We need the support of local residents.”

He admitted that he was unsure if the station would survive.

Cllr Howe said: “Finances are quite tight at the fire authority and I think it will be a binary decision in June. Either there will be enough recruitment and they will have found the savings, or they won’t.

“I’m not going to bet either way — I just don’t know at this stage.”

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