A VITAL fire station could be spared closure thanks to impassioned pleas from campaigners.
Calls for a rethink on proposals to shut Baschurch Fire Station as a cost-cutting measure have been listened to amid claims it could endanger lives and put Oswestry firefighters under immense pressure if they were forced to cover a far larger area.
A report published last week by John Redmond, chief fire officer for Shropshire Fire and Rescue Service, signalled a U-turn on previous recommendations to consider closing Baschurch, along with Prees, Hodnet and Clun, as the authority looks to make savings of up to £1.7 million by 2020.
The news has brought great joy to countless campaigners who lobbied the fire service to recognise it would be a dangerous move.
Mayor of Oswestry, Councillor Chris Schofield, said it was great news for Oswestry and the whole of Shropshire.
“It’s good to see common sense has prevailed,” he said.
“Baschurch’s closure would have put extraordinary pressure on Oswestry’s firefighters and could have put lives at risk.”
Nick Bardsley, Shropshire councillor for Ruyton and Baschurch, had fought long and hard to safeguard the station’s future and said he was “pretty confident” Mr Redmond’s advice would be followed.
“I would like to pay tribute to all the people who have campaigned – I have received hundreds of emails and letters of support.
“So many places would have been faced with delays, it could have been catastrophic.
“The difference between a wait of 10 or 15 minutes and 30 or 40 can be the difference between life and death.”
And Baschurch parish councillor Paul Ridgley said he was “delighted” the fire service had listened to and valued the concerns of the public.
Mr Redmond said appeals from parish councils, schools and colleges, the fire brigade and farmers’ unions, “demonstrates the level of support for keeping these stations open is significant”.
He said “the savings likely to arise from the closure – approximately £391,000 – is outweighed by the potential negative impacts on service delivery” including the impact on response times, the resilience of the service during busy periods and the level of public concern.
He instead suggested Shropshire Fire and Rescue Authority, which will make the final decision on where savings are to be made, should instead consider the removal of one of the full time fire engines in the Shrewsbury or Telford area and the possible merger of control offices with another service.
Joyce Barrow, a member of the fire service’s strategy and resources committee which will assess Mr Redmond’s fresh proposals at a meeting on Thursday, said she hoped her fellow members would endorse the new proposals before a final decision is made by the fire authority later this month.