Fire stations to close as blue light hub gets the GREEN light

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Two MK fire stations will close to make way for a new £4.4million blue light hub as councillors voted in favour of the plans.

The fire authority’s debate raged on for three and a half hours today at the civic offices.

Only four of 17 councillors voted against the proposal to replace Great Holm and Bletchley stations with a hub at West Ashland, to share with ambulance and police.

A packed public gallery saw the debate become political, with Labour firmly against and Tories more in favour.

Leader of Milton Keynes council Peter Marland even urged the Conservative-dominated authority NOT to reach a decision today.

He criticised the research into response times from the new hub as “shallow and weak”, and asked that the vote be delayed while more investigations are carried out.

A consultation exercise showed 89 per cent of people were against scrapping the two fire stations - mainly due to feared loss of service in the north of the city. But only 0.5 per cent of the population took part in the online questionnaire.

Vociferous in her objections was Labour councillor Zoe Nolan, who told the meeting: “Milton Keynes has already voted clearly to say no to this.

“If this proposal was in the hands of Milton Keynes Council, it would have been kicked out ages ago.”

Bucks Fire head of projects Paul Holland assured the meeting that the West Ashland hub would not change existing response times.

He said fire engines would still arrive at the scene within 10 minutes on 80 per cent of occasions.

There would also be no reduction in the number of fire engines and no firefighter redundancies, he said.

Chief fire officer Jason Thelwell said the new hub, which has already secured £2.8m of government funding, would be an “exciting and dynamic” opportunity for Milton Keynes.