Villagers' joy as fire station fight ends in victory


Rebecca Cole

A FIRE station under threat of closure has been spared following a dedicated drive by campaigners.
Firefighters, councillors and residents are celebrating after Shropshire Fire and Rescue Authority unanimously agreed not to close Baschurch Fire Station as part of county-wide budget cuts which also jeopardised the Prees, Hodnet and Clun stations.
Members also voted against scrapping one of the region’s fire engines after the Government allowed the authority to increase its council tax precept by 1.99 per cent.
Baschurch parish councillor Paul Ridgley was delighted the council’s “sustained and well co-ordinated campaign” to save the fire station had been successful.
He said: “Our long campaign has shown the voice of the people does have an effect on judgements made by decision-makers.

“Throughout the past months we have been supported by our MP Owen Paterson, all adjacent parish councils, businesses, commercial undertakings, schools, organisations and individuals from both the immediate area and also far afield.
“Without their welcome help and assistance we consider that our campaign may well have been in jeopardy.”
Campaigners lobbied the fire authority, Shropshire Council and the Government as well as taking part in an online questionnaire, printing hand-outs and displaying banners.
Firefighters themselves fought the proposal and through Cllr Ridgley thanked the public for their support and promised to maintain a “first class service”.
Joyce Barrow, Shropshire councillor and member of the fire service’s strategy and resources committee, said she was “chuffed” by the decision and claimed the closure of Baschurch Fire Station would have been a “huge loss” to the village and the wider area.
Many feared lives would be put at risk and firefighters covering the Oswestry area would face more pressure as they attempted to cover a much larger area.
Cllr Barrow added: “We were very fortunate in that the Government said we could raise the precept and I think that decision shows they understand that the sparsity of the population here means the distances our firefighters have to cover are huge.”
Nick Bardsley, Shropshire councillor for Ruyton and Baschurch, was also “absolutely delighted” by the news and thanked the fire service’s councillors, including Joyce Barrow, for listening to the public and appreciating that the closures “would not have saved a fortune and would have had a massive effect on response times”.
Cllr Ridgley agreed that any station closure would have been a “great mistake”.
“By full public support, combined with hard factual evidence and statistics, we have proved beyond doubt that the safety of people and property within the Baschurch area can only be assured by keeping the fire station open,” he added.
“Any other options, now or in the future, are not acceptable.”

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