Plans to close fire station sparks ‘shameless’ game of political football

MPMC Fire station
MPMC Fire station

Proposals to close a city fire station have sparked a “shameless” game of political football, it was claimed this week.

Making the accusation is MK’s team Tory, whose councillors are hitting back at Labour’s opposition to the closure.

Meanwhile Labour is claiming the demise of Great Holm Fire Station has already been fixed by Bucks Fire Authority – despite the fact that public consultation is ongoing and no decision has yet been reached.

The proposal from the fire authority is to merge Bletchley and Great Holm stations and create a blue-light hub station at West Ashland, where emergency services could work together.

Last week Labour councillor Zoe Nolan slammed the public consultation as a sham, claiming the fire authority had already earmarked the Great Holm site for lucrative redevelopment.

Now Conservatives, backed by MP Iain Stewart have pitched in with their own attack.

Tory leader Edith Bald said: “Labour’s shameless political games over Great Holm Fire Station are disappointing and don’t fully reflect the discussions taking place.

“The fire authority came forward last year with an innovative design that would provide the police, ambulance and fire services with a state of the art shared building and training area.

“However, during consultation concerns were raised about the impact of significant new housing and other developments on the Western Flank in MK, which will place new demands on the service. The fire authority are working through these concerns ready for a meeting in mid-February to decide the best solution.”

Councillor Bald added: “What we are seeing is Labour councillors who are up for election in May, using the potential merger as a political football, ignoring all the facts and the overwhelming benefits of the new site.”

A spokesman for the city’s Labour group said: “Local councillors are elected to stand up for their local communities. MK Labour have consistently said that the proposed closure of Great Holm Fire Station has sparked huge concerns across the north and west of the city and thousands have residents have got in touch with us on the issue.

“We’ve been clear that while MK Labour opposes the closure, the decision will be taken by Bucks and MK Fire and Rescue Authority, which has a big Conservative majority mainly made up of councillors from Buckinghamshire County Council.

“Our campaign has focused on need to ensure these councillors who live miles from MK know our local concerns before they vote.”

Tory MP Iain Stewart said the fire service had done an “outstanding job” to get Government funding facility for the proposed new facility. He added: “There is a real risk that politicising this will damage how we move our service into the modern era.”

A Bucks Fire Service spokesman said; “We have consulted widely with the public, councillors, local businesses and our own staff, and would like to thank everyone who has made their views known to us. The final proposals will be considered at the Fire Authority meeting at the Civic Offices in Milton Keynes on 10 February.”

“We have repeatedly made it clear that there are no plans to develop ​this site.​”