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Halesowen's replacement fire station site sparks fears of needless deaths
10:30am Thursday 28th June 2012 in News
The fire authority agreed on Monday that the iconic 1930s Municipal Buildings, at the junction of Barrs Road and Halesowen Road, should be demolished to make way for a single appliance, multi-bay £3 million fire station.
It will replace the stations in Hagley Road, Halesowen, and Mace Street, Old Hill, and the number of engines covering the two towns has controversially being cut from two to one as part of the plan.
Some of the land will also be used as car parking for the adjacent Haden Hill Leisure Centre, in a bid to solve on-street parking congestion.
Cllr Turner fought for an alternative location at the disused A&J Mucklow’s site at the top of Haden Hill to be approved by the fire authority, prior to being removed by Dudley Council’s Conservative leader Les Jones, after seven years as a member.
Cllr Jones refused to reveal the reason for the decision to replace his outspoken colleague with Gornal member Cllr Tim Wright, but Cllr Turner acknowledged that he and the leader were “not the best of friends.”
He said: “I have enjoyed working to ensure that Halesowen was well protected and I’m disappointed that the south of the borough is now not represented.”
Cllr Turner, who earned £12,000 from his fire authority work in the last year, nearly half of which he gave to charities, said the location of the replacement station was a “major concern.”
He believes water-laden fire engines will be slowed down by having to drive up Haden Hill and fears delays in reaching incidents in Hayley Green, the furthest area from the new site, could cause needless deaths, “A two-minute delay is a 120 seconds of flames or fumes and a small child or an elderly person could die,” he said.
He added: “Whilst the crew and staff at Cradley Heath Fire Station are working extremely hard to cover Halesowen as well as Cradley Heath, it is clear that the building is not fit for purpose. We need a modern, fully-equipped fire station to be up and running as soon as possible.”
Fire authority chairman Cllr John Edwards said: “The new fire station will be a first class resource which will benefit the communities of both Cradley Heath and Halesowen.”
Former Cradley Heath and Old Hill Conservative councillor Liz Bowler, who campaigned against the Sandwell Council-owned Municipal Buildings being bulldozed claimed the council refused her request for a public meeting before deciding to sell the site.
She said: “With no credible opposition to the controlling Labour group, these behind-closed-doors decisions that affect our local communities are likely to happen more frequently across the borough.”
Planning permission for the new fire station will be submiited to Sandwell Council shortly.