Councillors to choose over Blaina fire station

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TOP councillors in Blaenau Gwent will be asked whether they agree with a decision to close Blaina fire station at a meeting on Wednesday (September 3).

The council’s cabinet will respond to a recommendation made by a council scrutiny panel who disagreed with the South Wales Fire Authority’s decision to axe the fire station.

Last autumn there were protests to the plans outside Blaina fire station, which lost two of its fire fighters in 1996, Steven Griffin and Kevin Lane during a rescue attempt in the village.

The mooted closure was part of a wide-ranging review by the fire authority into its stations and financial cuts, and following consultation, the “in principle” decision was made in June to close Blaina, with 15 jobs affected.

On July 18, the fire authority’s deputy chief officer Sally Chapman, and head of operations Dewi Rose gave a briefing to the corporate overview scrutiny committee and members were assured that, if they found reasonable evidence, the decision could be overturned, according to the report going before the executive on Wednesday.

On August 7 at a second meeting, panel members were asked to agree or disagree with the decision of the fire service and, if they disagreed, to come up with a recommendation for the executive to make a decision.

The panel disagreed with the plans and said: “Due to the conflicting evidence that members have found during the scrutiny process, with information that had been supplied by the fire authority...and factual statistics of recent incidents...members could not justify the significant risk factor to lives that this would place on the community of Blaenau Gwent.

“Especially the east of Blaina, which contained a primary school and over 1,300 residents, who would have to wait over 10 minutes for the first appliance to arrive if this appliance was available.”

The executive’s decision on Wednesday will be provided as evidence to the South Wales Fire Authority at their meeting in September where a final decision regarding the closure will be made.

Members can either agree with the fire authority or their own scrutiny panel members.

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