A proposal to shut five on call fire stations across north Wales including Abersoch has been scrapped by the North Wales Fire and Rescue Authority.
North Wales Fire and Rescue Service want to speed up response times and improve emergency cover in Dolgellau and Porthmadog, and put forward three different options to achieve that. Option one proposed that full-time firefighters be put on duty during the day in those places. There would be no job losses, but every north Wales household would pay £20.36 more than they do now, Gwynedd Council said.
The second option was the same as the above, but one of three fire engines based in Wrexham would be taken away and 22 firefighter jobs lost to make savings of around £1.1m. Each household would pay £16.63 more.
The final option was be the same as option two, but with the closures of Llanberis, Beaumaris, Abersoch, Cerrigydrudion and Conwy fire stations and the loss of 36 full-time firefighters and 38 on-call firefighters. This option would see taxpayers pay £12.22 more than now.
A public consultation on three options closed on 30 September and 1,776 people completed the questionnaire used to gather feedback. North Wales Fire and Rescue Service said today (Monday) it would work to develop Option 1. A statement on the fire service website said based on public feedback to the consultation, Fire and Rescue Authority members today agreed with the recommendation from the Member Emergency Cover Review Working Group that officers should continue to work on developing Option 1 taking into consideration the points raised in the responses to the consultation, and that the authority should cease working on Options 2 and 3 presented as part of the Emergency Cover Review.
Dylan Rees, Chair of the Fire and Rescue Authority, said: “I would like to thank everyone who took part in this consultation. We had a great response from people completing the questionnaire as well as attending the public engagement events held across north Wales, in order to record their views on the three options presented within the consultation.
“At the meeting this morning, Members of the Authority reported that they felt the consultation had been extremely thorough and had been analysed in detail. Members agreed that as a result of the views expressed during the consultation, the focus going forward should be on developing Option 1 which is the only option that does not included reducing firefighter posts.”
Chief Fire Officer Dawn Docx said: “We will now place our efforts and resources on further developing Option 1 and I would like to provide reassurance that we will work with members of the Fire Brigades Union, both on a local and regional level, to find a consensus on the way forward.
“It is heartening that the level of the response to the consultation from all those who took part demonstrates such strength of support and recognises the value of our fire and rescue service. Equally, concentrating on further developing Option 1 going forward offers the potential for improving our services provided to the people of north Wales in the future.”
The final decision-making meeting of the Fire and Rescue Authority will take place on 18 December and a recording of this meeting will be available on the website www.northwalesfire.gov.wales for those interested in hearing the discussion about how the decision is made.
After the final decision has been made, any changes to fire and rescue service emergency cover in North Wales would take place in a phased approach, as part of the 2024/29 Community Risk Management Plan.
The news about Gwynedd's fire stations has been welcomed by Dwyfor Meirionnydd MP and MS Liz Saville Roberts and Mabon ap Gwynfor and Arfon MP and MS Hywel Williams and Sian Gwenllian.
They said: “This news will be an immense relief for those communities directly served by Llanberis and Abersoch fire stations and will be welcomed right across Gwynedd. The decision to safeguard both stations follows a hard-fought local campaign and we must pay tribute to all those who contributed to today’s announcement. Collective pressure from campaigners, the FBU and firefighters themselves has been instrumental in securing this result.
“It should be appreciated that most fire stations respond to calls which are outside their immediate locality and are often relied upon to serve as back-up when other, neighbouring stations are otherwise out on a call. This includes responding to road traffic accidents and supporting other blue light services. Closing Llanberis and Abersoch stations would have significantly undermined this safety net arrangement.
“We thank the fire authority for listening to overwhelming calls that these stations should be safeguarded, not only in the interest of public safety, but also to maintain and strengthen years of experience amongst our local fire crews, something which cannot be easily replaced.
“The fact that the fire service is having to find millions of pounds of savings is yet further proof of how Tory austerity is hurting our communities and threatening the safety of people right across north Wales. The fire service should be funded to maintain a level of cover that gives us confidence and should not have to be in this position.”