A Labour councillor campaigning against the closure of a local fire station has called the consultation on the proposals a sham after she uncovered evidence that the site has already been earmarked for development.
Loughton and Shenley Councillor Zoe Nolan is leading the campaign to keep the Great Holm fire station open and thousands of people from across the city have joined the fight, with unprecedented numbers responding to the Buckinghamshire & MK Fire Authority’s proposal to close Great Holm and Bletchley fire stations and open a new facility at West Ashland.
Yet despite assurances that no decision has been made on the issue by the fire authority, which has a huge Tory majority, Cllr Nolan has uncovered evidence that the Buckinghamshire & MK Fire Authority have already earmarked the Great Holm site for development after it closes.
In a planning application regarding a new 4G mobile phone mast and base station for Telefonica, it appears that the authority has let slip its true intentions. In a section highlighting why they have selected the proposed site on Portway, the application highlights that they wished to use the current station site but the Fire Authority had refused permission to use the land as it is due for redevelopment.
Cllr Nolan is now calling for the consultation to be scrapped and an independent investigation launched into whether the public have been misled. She is also demanding to know what development is planned for the site as local people have repeatedly been told there are no plans to redevelop the site.
Cllr Nolan said: “I no longer have any confidence in this consultation. It is a sham.”
She added, “We have consistently said that we were worried that this was a foregone conclusion and that the public were being put in danger from having to wait longer for a fire engine.
“We have repeatedly been told that no decision has yet been made and that the Fire Authority had no plans for the site. However it now emerges in a planning application that a phone company has asked if they could use the site for a new mast, but have been told they can’t use it as the site is going to be redeveloped. The true position has leaked out.
“If the decision hasn’t been made and there are no future plans for the site, then why are a company being told they can’t use it as the site will be redeveloped?”
She concluded, “I now believe that the public can have no confidence in the consultation. I am going to write to the Fire Authority’s legal officer asking that the plans to close Great Holm are withdrawn and that an independent investigation is held into this matter to restore confidence in a process that now has no credibility.”