THE ASSEMBLY member for Blaenau Gwent says he is bitterly disappointed at the decision in principle to close Blaina Fire Station.

Alun Davies, who is also a environment minister in the Labour Welsh Government, said he hopes its not a decision that we will live to regret.

On Monday South Wales Fire and Rescue Authority approved in principle the removal of the second pump at Cwmbran fire station and the closure of Blaina Fire Station, which could lead to up to 17 redundancies.

The closure of Blaina fire station would potentially put 15 jobs at risk.

Both matters will be referred to Torfaen and Blaenau Gwent councils before a final decision is made in September.

Mr Davies said in a statement that he was “bitterly disappointed that the South Wales Fire Authority has agreed to the closure, in principle, of Blaina Fire Station.

“Closing the station will undoubtedly have an effect on the fire cover for the area and even though South Wales Fire and Rescue Service has assured the public that the closure will not result in an increase in fatalities, I hope it is not a decision that we will live to regret.

“The closure will not only be a loss to the town, but will take away a dedicated crew who put their lives on the line to protect the citizens of Blaenau Gwent.”

Yesterday Mrs Neagle told a Senedd debate on fire and rescue services in Wales that “we can take some heart” from the second level of local scrutiny she said was put in place “partly in response to the huge groundswell of concern over the plans”.

She said the fact that the pump at Cwmbran could be lost made “it all the more frustrating to think of scarce resources being needlessly wasted because of the totally thoughtless actions of the those who go out of their way to start fires deliberately.”

She cited figures in the Argus that put the cost of grass fires in Gwent at around £150,000.