COUNCILLORS have backed a call from campaigners to keep a Gwent fire station open after plans were approved to close it.

South Wales Fire and Rescue Authority approved plans in principle in March to close Blaina fire station and remove a second pump at Cwmbran fire station.

Blaenau Gwent council’s corporate overview scrutiny committee members backed campaigners yesterday by recommending that the fire station should remain open.

The recommendation will be discussed at the council's executive meeting on September 3 before a final decision is made by the fire service in September.

The fire service's plans have faced bitter opposition from campaigners since last Autumn.

A leading voice has been Blaina firefighter widow Margaret Griffin, who lost her husband Steven alongside his colleague Kevin Lane when they entered a burning house on Zephaniah Way, Blaina, on February 1 1996, believing a three-year-old boy was trapped inside.

Mrs Griffin had previously said she was disappointed in the fire service's decision.

A spokeswoman from Blaenau Gwent County Borough Council said: "A scrutiny meeting took place as part of the ongoing process. It was recommended that Blaina Fire Station stays open.”

South Wales Fire and Rescue Authority defended plans earlier this year saying closure was not predicted to increase fatalities and could save up to £158,000 a year.