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MP fears lives will be at risk if fire station closes
An MP has raised fears that Otley and Leeds-Bradford Airport could be left without sufficient firefighting cover if another station closes.
Greg Mulholland (Lib Dem, Leeds North West) says plans to close Cookridge fire station, as part of further money-saving cuts by West Yorkshire Fire Service, would leave both areas exposed and pose an “unacceptable risk to lives”.
The plan, by West Yorkshire’s chief fire officer, Simon Pilling, would also see stations in Hunslet, Morley, Rothwell, Garforth and Moortown shut down – to be replaced by three new bases – and 200 full-time firefighting jobs lost.
It follows last year’s decision to close ten fire stations, including those in Otley and Rawdon, and replace them with five new ones.
The Fire Brigades Union’s West Yorkshire brigade secretary, David Williams, has condemned the new proposals as “irresponsible beyond belief”, warning they would slow response times.
Mr Mulholland said: “I am concerned about these proposals and the potential impact they could have throughout Leeds.
“Cookridge fire station is a vital unit, and its strategic position between Leeds- Bradford Airport and Leeds is one of upmost importance to the safety of residents.
“Airport passengers need to be safe in the knowledge that if a major incident were to occur, the fire service can respond in minutes and to its full capability.
“One of the areas that Cookridge covers is Otley. When the decision was taken to close Otley fire station, one of the points used to justify the closure was that fire service support would be provided from Horsforth and Cookridge.
“However, no mention of Otley was made in the new proposal and, therefore, I would like to know what plans are in place to ensure the safety of Otley residents if Cookridge station were to close.”
If approved, Mr Pilling’s plans would take effect between 2016 and 2020. He believes they would save the service about £8 million a year to help it deal with Government funding cuts.
Mr Williams, however, said: “After last year’s announcement of station closures they’ve planned during the next few years, firefighters across the county raised concerns for the safety of our communities and that of firefighters responding to emergencies.
“To propose a further raft of station closures and the loss of a further 200 front-line emergency firefighters is irresponsible beyond belief.”
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