MP urges constituents to act as village fire crew faces axe

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CAMPAIGNERS battling to save a fire station from closure including the local MP and borough councillors have called on local people to attend a public meeting to be held next week to fight the plans.

Royston fire station is one of four which will be closed across the county under controversial cost-cutting plans unveiled earlier this year by senior officers at South Yorkshire Fire and Rescue.

The service must save £10m by 2015, and a public consultation is already underway on a number of proposed changes, although a recent public meeting held by the service attracted just five people.

Councillors in Royston, near Barnsley, have already attacked the scheme after meeting firefighters and station management to discuss the implications of the proposals on the local community.

Coun Graham Kyte said the idea was “a cut too far” while colleague Coun Tim Cheetham said: “Losing Royston will increase attendance times significantly and this will endanger lives.”

Their concerns have been echoed by Barnsley Central MP Dan Jarvis, who urged anyone interested in the station to attend the public meeting which will be held at Royston Civic Hall at 7pm on December 7.

Mr Jarvis said: “This is a critical issue for the people of Royston and the surrounding areas. I urge as many people as possible to attend the public meeting on December 7 and have their say.”

Under the proposed changes new fire stations would be built near the Sheffield Parkway and at Birley, to replace the city’s Darnall, Mansfield Road and Mosborough fire stations.

Retained crews at Edlington in Doncaster would also be lost under the money-saving scheme, which has prompted anger in that community.

The fire service said its changes would produce a saving of around £2.25m per year through the loss of 68 full-time firefighter posts and 32 retained firefighter posts.

Other internal staffing changes would remove a further 40 full-time firefighter posts, saving a further £1.75m.

Up to £3m is already set to be saved at the service through 25 per cent cuts in management and adminsitration costs, but South Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Authority chairman Coun Jim Andrews has previously said that frontline cuts are “inevitable”.