The Conservative run Buckinghamshire and Milton Keynes Fire and Rescue Service plan to close Great Holm Fire Station this year in order to fund the ‘Blue light’ Fire service hub at West Ashland next to Stadium MK.
The finances for the new ‘Blue light’ do not stack up unless they sell the Great Holm site for housing, generating, it hopes, £1.6 million to invest in the new fire station.
Community campaigner Ben Nolan said: “This decision flies in the face of commitments given that there were no plans to sell or demolish Great Holm fire station. Given the continued growth of the west flank of Milton Keynes it is obvious that new fire service provision will be needed in the next decade, at least for fire engines to park up on match days and other busy times. Only a bungling Conservative controlled body would make such a crass short term decision.”
It appears that in order to fund the new ‘Blue light’ development the Fire and Rescue authority will need to sell both the Great Holm site as well as the Bletchley station site for housing development and this will fund the new service.
Ben Nolan added: “I thought the Government was funding the new ‘Blue light’ service but now it seems the Fire Authority is having to sell sites like Great Holm to fund the new service. The building is ideal for community use for example for the Scouts and Guides who are looking for suitable premises at the moment.”
The residents of the west flank and Milton Keynes Council had opposed closing Great Holm Fire Station, but the Fire Authority has not listened. Initially they did say they would keep the building and that it could be for community use. It is only 26 years old and in good condition. Now they have torn up this commitment as they battle with financial pressures caused by a lack of Government funding and poor financial decisions locally.
Cllr Zoe Nolan, who represents the Great Holm, Loughton and Shenley area, said: “The Conservative run Fire authority is a one party state and they made a political decision to cut the fire service precept, part of the Council tax a few years ago. This decision cost them £500,000 and has put a hole in their budget. It was a short sighted electoral gimmick and it has now added to their funding problems around the new ‘Blue light’ hub.”
Community campaigner Ben Nolan believes the best way forward would be to put demolition of Great Holm on hold, because the West flank will need a new station, at least as a base for fire engines, in the next decade, and to ask the Government to increase its funding of the new hub.
Ben Nolan concluded, “As a local resident I have always believed the decision to close Great Holm was both dangerous and short sighted. The decision to close, demolish and sell the station, this year, adds insult to injury. The Government should step in and fund the new ‘Blue light’ hub properly and Great Holm should be kept open. I call upon the Conservatives to stop their mismanagement, to listen to what the public said in the consultation and to think again.”