Budget is too tight for new fire station at Abbey Stadium
5:30am Tuesday 10th June 2014 in By Mike Benke, @Michael_Benke
WILTSHIRE Fire and Rescue has welcomed the potential offer of land in North Swindon for a new fire station but has said it is not something it can progress with in the near future.
The companies behind the Abbey Stadium development have put in an application remove the commercial space which was part of the initial agreement and replace it with around 100 extra houses.
On top of that, Landvest Homes and Gaming International has set aside land for a possible fire station.
The fire service has said with Swindon set to expand the location would be ideal for a new station but with finances tight due to Government cuts, it is not something they can pursue in the short term.
However, it has not been ruled out entirely and the offer will remain open if the application is accepted.
Deputy Chief Fire Officer John Aldridge said: “A number of discussions have been held between Wiltshire Fire and Rescue Service and the developer over the possibility of building a new fire station as part of this wider scheme.
“While the Service welcomes the offer of this land, especially as this is a location ideally suited for a new fire station to serve the Swindon area, we have made it clear to the developer that this is not something we are in a position to explore further at this time.
“They have indicated that they are happy for the offer to stand going forward and, if and when we are able to revisit the proposal, we know that we have the opportunity to open discussions with them.”
The pocket of land being identified for a possible fire station would be adjacent to Lady Lane, on the northern part of the site, which currently has permission for 450 homes and a new stadium.
Before becoming a possible fire station, it would be an extra car park for the stadium.
If the application is successful and the fire service does eventually move forward, then the land will be transferred to the council for £1 to then be built on.
A fundamental reason for Wiltshire Fire and Rescue ruling it out in the short term is because of budget pressures. It is expecting government grants to drop by 50 per cent in the coming years, which equates to a fifth of the overall funding.
As a result talks are ongoing with Dorset Fire and Rescue about a possible merger to reduce costs. The changes would predominantly be back-of-house but cuts to frontline services have not been ruled out.
A public consultation on the plans is set to start on Monday and full details will be on www.wiltsfire.gov.uk.
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