Milton Keynes Conservative Councillors voted with Conservatives in Buckinghamshire on Wednesday 10 February to close Great Holm Fire Station at a special meeting of the Buckinghamshire and Milton Keynes Fire Authority with 12 votes to 4.
The Conservative Councillor for our Loughton and Shenley ward, who is also the Vice Chairman of the Buckinghamshire and Milton Keynes Fire Authority, voted with other Conservative councillors to shut down our fire station. This was after the Conservatives had put a leaflet around every home in our ward featuring Conservatives, claiming they would ‘save’ our fire station and in the face of overwhelming opposition to the closure from local people, fire fighters and those working and visiting the area. The public gallery was packed for the meeting but they were not listening to our concerns.
The proposal to close the fire station was strongly opposed by the two Labour Members of the Fire Authority, including Milton Keynes Council Leader, Pete Marland who also made it clear that Milton Keynes Council was opposed to the closure. Labour Councillors for Loughton and Shenley, Zoe Nolan and Matt Clifton, also spoke against the proposal to close Great Holm Fire Station and Councillor Nolan presented to the meeting a petition of 3,616 signatures against the closure. Sadly it was to no avail as the Conservatives used their majority to shut the station even though 89% of residents responding to the formal consultation were opposed to the closure.
“This is the largest consultation response they have ever received but they are not listening to the concerns from residents. They are out of touch,” said Councillor Zoe Nolan.
In order to meet reasonable response times, we were told fire crews will be based at “standby points” around Milton Keynes. Councillor Zoe Nolan said, “How can we monitor their decision and see that safety is not compromised? Currently the Fire Authority’s own figures, collected over 6 months, show that for 4 out of 5 calls, the fire crew are responding from a station. This means the location of local fire stations do matter.
“Now they say they will have a ‘fluid and dynamic approach’ but they have not told us how. How will suitable stand by points for fire engines and fire fighters be found across MK? How can we hold the Conservatives who voted for this accountable and ensure that the security of residents is not put at risk?”
“There is not enough evidence to show that keeping fire engines parked up on roads around MK is a workable alternative,” added Councillor Nolan. “I will be working to increase our security and challenge the councillors on the Fire Authority who are accountable to deliver on their promises.”