‘Partial victory’ over fire station closure

Morley Fire Station
Morley Fire Station

CAMPAIGNERS are celebrating the news that Morley is to retain its fire station in the town centre – although it will no longer be manned 24 hours a day.

West Yorkshire Fire Authority has performed a U-turn on recommendations to close the station after record levels of public feedback were submitted during its recent consultation on fire service reform across the county.

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 inbetween the two, with the area close to the White Rose Centre on Dewsbury Road mentioned as a likely location.

However, on Thursday the Fire Authority published revised proposals after the public consultation, which recommended that both Hunslet and Morley remain open in their current locations, with one fire engine removed from Hunslet.

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.

The 12-week consultation saw thousands of letters of objection sent to the Fire Authority by Morley residents concerned about how the loss of the town’s station would affect fire response times.

Councillors sitting on the West Yorkshire Fire Authority will now consider the new proposals at its next meeting on December 21.

Morley’s MP Ed Balls, who had voiced concern over the closure plans, visited firefighters at the station on Friday after hearing the news.

“While it’s welcome news that our fire station here in Morley will now stay and stay open, there are now concerns about proposed changes that would make the station only staffed part-time,” he said.

Morley Borough Independent councillors launched a campaign against the closure but said the new proposals were “a partial victory”.

In paying tribute to residents who had fought the recommendations Coun Robert Finnigan said: “I am delighted that the overwhelming opposition of residents to this proposal has been recognised and we have been able to get the Fire Authority to reverse this decision.

“Credit should go to Brian and Christine Guy who have worked closely with us on this campaign and the Fire Brigades Union who have also worked hard to oppose closure.

“However we will keep campaigning on the proposed staffing structure which will mean part time daytime cover instead of the present 24 hours a day cover.”

Coun Judith Elliott said “This is only a partial victory. Although the fire station is to be retained we still have significant concerns about the new staffing proposals. This will mean Morley is covered part time with staff having to get in from home during the night time if the proposals for retained staff are agreed.”

Coun Neil Dawson said he did not want to see the new staffing system introduced.

“I welcome the change of direction by the authority to keep Morley Fire station as a continuing operational station. This shows they have listened to the concerns of local people and despite the financial constraints from government they have concluded operating from two sites, in Hunslet and Morley, is the best outcome for South Leeds.

“My concern is that the proposed move to a day crew system will be detrimental to people in Morley.”

l What do you think about the decision? Email us at editorial@morleyto