Residents come out to save Blaina fire station
11:53am Tuesday 8th October 2013 in News
Peaceful demonstration at Ebbw Vale Civic Centre, in opposition to the closure of Blaina Fire Station. Protestors campaigning to save Blaina Fire Station. (1354470)
PROTESTERS gathered in Ebbw Vale against the proposed closure of Blaina fire station to greet chief fire officer Huw Jakeway as he arrived to consult councillors in a closed meeting.
Around sixty people gathered in peaceful protest outside the civic centre in Ebbw Vale yesterday afternoon (MON). Among them was Cllr Lisa Winnett who has contacted Mr the Chief Fire Officer for South Wales Fire and Rescue Service Huw Jakeway about concerns of misinformation.
Cllr Winnett said: “My biggest concern is the misinformation that has gone out to the public so far. It’s very worrying that they are using incorrect information.”
In the review documents released by the fire service, facts such as population figures are based on Blaina being listed as part of Lower Fach, when it is actually part of the Upper Ebbw Fach Area. Cllr Willett also believes Blaina’s population is set to increase, not decrease as the review suggests.
Plans to close the station, which is manned by 16 retained firefighters, and to remove the retained appliance from Cwmbran fire station, which is crewed by 17 retained firefighters, have been put forward as part of a wide-ranging fire cover review.
Alun Davies, assembly member for Blaenau Gwent, has held talks with Blaina officers and Mr Jakeway. According to the latter's calculations, the closure of Blaina would not result in an increase in fatalities, but he admitted an increase of two-and-a-half minutes to response times in the Blaina area.
Ryan Smith, crew manager at Blaina station and firefighter in Ebbw Vale, said: “Minutes countbelieve me. In a fire, seconds count. Don’t take front line appliances away.”
Margaret Griffin, widow of Steven Griffin, one of the firefighters who died in 1996, said: “We have got to keep it open. The boys deserve to be there. At the end of the day, it puts everybody’s lives at risk.”
Sharon Tucker, Blaina resident, said: “Our firemen have moved to be close to the stations. It’s not just jobs, it’s about people’s lives.”
Mr Davies AM said he would be writing to the chief fire officer to urge him to consider alternatives to closing Blaina, whether that be a merged station, replacing the current station or merging sites with other blue light services.
He said: “I will not let Blaenau Gwent be put at risk and I vow to stand by the hundreds of people in my constituency who feel the same.
Mr Davies appealed to the members of the public in his constituency and said: “I firmly believe we can make a difference to this proposal, but you must get involved to ensure a safe future for us all.”
l Members of the public have responded to the proposal to remove one of the two fire engines from the Cwmbran station, with the online petition attracting more than 3,200 signatures.
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