John Whitehouse

Retired County Councillor for Kenilworth Abbey Division Learn more

Seven Warwickshire Fire Stations to be Axed, including Kenilworth

by John Whitehouse on 15 September, 2009

Campaigning with Liz Lynne MEP at Kenilworth Fire Station

Yesterday Warwickshire Fire & Rescue Service (WFRS) announced proposals to close seven of the current twenty fire stations serving the county, and to merge two others. Included in the list of planned closures is Kenilworth Fire Station, located in the heart of my county electoral division.

These proposals have been known to county councillors since a Cabinet meeting in July which approved them for consultation, but until yesterday we were unable to say anything publicly about them.

I released the following statement to local media today:-

The news of the planned closure of Kenilworth Fire Station has come as a great shock, but less of a surprise. Rumours have been circulating for a long time, and the Conservatives running the County Council have done residents a great disservice by keeping their plans and intentions secret for so long. The plan was agreed by the Cabinet in July, but it is only now that county councillors are free to talk about it.

The documents released yesterday show that Kenilworth Fire Station costs ? 95,000 a year to run, or about ? 4 a head for every man, woman and child in the area it covers. This seems remarkably good value to me, and a small price to pay for the security and peace of mind that people get from having their own local fire station based here in the town.

The Fire Service state that they can meet the County Council’s current response standards (10 minutes urban, 20 minutes rural) for the Kenilworth area from the fire station based in Leamington’s busy and congested town centre. Kenilworth residents will find that very hard to accept, especially given the traffic delays between the two towns at peak times. It seems that no allowance is being made for traffic delays, or for other unforeseen events such as road closures, flooding etc.

The plan even assumes that the whole of Burton Green, at the northern edge of my county division, will be covered from Leamington fire station, despite the fact that it adjoins the city of Coventry and is only a few minutes away from a major West Midlands fire station.

There is now a twelve week consultation period before the final version of the plan is drawn up and presented to the Cabinet in January for decision. My promise to local residents is that I will use that time to make sure that proper and effective consultation takes place, and that their voices are heard by those making the decisions. Let’s be clear though – it’s not the Fire Service who will make the ultimate decisions, but the Conservative-run County Council.

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