Anger mounts over Blaina fire station closure plan
3:34pm Wednesday 19th March 2014 in News
A LEADING campaigner in the fight to save Blaina fire station from closure fears concerns about fire and rescue cover in Blaenau Gwent have not been taken seriously by fire chiefs.
South Wales Fire Authority will be asked next Monday to approve in principle the closure of the station, subject to independent post-decision scrutiny by Blaenau Gwent councillors.
But Lisa Winnett, a county borough councillor for the Blaina ward, said the recommendation for closure despite a fierce campaign of opposition, is creating much bitterness and anger.
Cllr Winnett submitted a large amount of evidence in support of keeping the fire station open during a public consultation last autumn, after the closure proposal was first aired after a major review of fire cover by South Wales Fire and Rescue.
A decision was due last autumn but such was the volume of response to the consultation that it has been delayed until South Wales Fire Authority meets at its Llantrisant headquarters next Monday, March 24.
Cllr Winnett said: “We honestly thought we had made a very good case and I remain convinced we have, but I fear we are not being taken seriously and our concerns have not been addressed.
“This is a very sensitive issue and there is a lot of anger in Blaina. The crew there is phenomenal, they do a fantastic job, but we are all being ignored.”
Margaret Griffin, whose husband Steven and colleague Kevin Lane, both based at the station, died 18 years ago when they entered a burning house in the village, thinking a three-year-old boy was trapped within, told the Argus yesterday of her heartbreak that the station was closing.
Blaenau Gwent AM Alun Davies, who backed the campaigners, said the recommendation to push ahead with closure had left him “bitterly disappointed.”
He said: “I accept the fire service review is necessary and budgets are tight across the board, however I do not accept the closure of this station is the way to balance the books. The crew at Blaina have some of the best response times to incidents in the whole of the service and are a superb example of how a station should operate.”
He praised the campaigners’ “tireless” efforts and added: “I am only sorry that their hard work and the alternative proposals put forward have not led to a more positive outcome.”
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