Details for plan to return full-time Ashfield Fire Station to be unveiled by summer

Ashfield Fire Station. Image: NFRS
By Andrew Topping, Local Democracy Reporter

Details of how Ashfield Fire Station could return to full-time, 24-hour cover will likely be made public by chief fire officers before this summer.

The Kirkby-in-Ashfield station was cut from whole-time cover to day shifts and on-call cover at night in 2018.

The change was made as part of Nottinghamshire Fire Authority plans to claw back cash during periods of austerity to find £500,000 per year.

Figures showed the cuts led to an increase in response times at the station.

The change was due to be reversed this year as part of new fire authority plans to save £2m.

But this would have seen the same 2018 cut enforced at West Bridgford Fire Station, removing the Rushcliffe site’s night cover altogether.

It would have also led to the removal of one fire engine at both London Road and Stockhill stations.

The Fire Brigades Union said at the time the plans would “further endanger the lives of the public and the safety of fire crews”.

However, following a higher-than-expected financial settlement from Government for the coming year, these plans were scrapped in February.

It followed campaigns from councillors in West Bridgford and Nottingham city about the impact the cuts could have in their communities.

A public consultation also found about 80 per cent of people did not agree with the West Bridgford, London Road and Stockhill plans.

When scrapping the plans at its budget meeting last month, the Labour-run fire authority also agreed to “work up” proposals to continue reinstating Ashfield’s night cover.

Now the chairman of the authority has confirmed detailed proposals for the reinstatement of night cover in Ashfield will be confirmed in the coming weeks.

Councillor Michael Payne (Lab), the fire authority chairman, confirmed the news during Nottinghamshire County Council’s full council meeting on Thursday (March 30).

It followed a question posed by Cllr Jason Zadrozny (Ash Ind), the leader of Ashfield District Council, who asked for a timeline on the plans.

Responding, Cllr Payne said: “The chief fire officer and wider management team are now working through possible options for the Ashfield area.

“Work to identify options has already started and the chief fire officer envisages they will be reported over the next few weeks.

“Certainly, Cllr Zadrozny, this will be prior to the summer.

“It is likely, given the ongoing severity of Government cuts, that any option will require the redistribution of existing service resources.

“[This is] unless Nottinghamshire Fire and Rescue Service sees an end to the ongoing cuts it has received in recent years.

“We as the fire authority are keen that the good people and communities of Ashfield get their fair share of fire resources – even if the resources we receive continue to dwindle year-on-year.”

In response, Cllr Zadrozny welcomed the news after previously saying the reinstatement of 24-hour cover in Ashfield is “necessary”.

Councillor Jason Zadrozny

Responding to Cllr Payne, he said: “I want to personally thank [you] and the chief fire officer [Craig Parkin] for personally listening to our pleas.

“When the decision was made in 2018, we made a promise to the people of Ashfield that we’d fight for a reversal and for a full-time fire station.

“We’ve continually shouted about this ever since.”

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