North Wales fire service 'worst case scenario' cuts ruled out

North Wales fire engines Image copyright NWFR
Image caption North Wales Fire and Rescue Authority needs to save £1.9m over 2019 and 2020

A worst case cost-cutting scenario that could have seen up to 52 firefighters lose their jobs in north Wales has been ruled out.

One engine in Wrexham could be axed and stations downgraded as North Wales Fire and Rescue Authority (NWFRA) tries to make savings.

But on Monday, NWFRA ruled out making all the £1.9m of savings through service cuts.

Union representatives had warned any cuts would put "lives at risk".

The authority needs to save £1.9m over 2019 and 2020 and had proposed plugging the shortfall by making wide-spread cuts to frontline services, or getting councils to increase contributions to foot the bill.

The worst case scenario could have seen up to 52 firefighters and managers lose their jobs as well as a number of retained firefighter roles being cut.

But following a meeting NWFRA's executive scrapped this option, saying it would not fund the shortfall through cuts to services alone.

Instead the public will be asked whether some services should be cut alongside councils increasing contributions, or if local authorities should pay the whole bill to avoid cuts altogether.

Local authorities would have to pay between £180,360 - £398,160 each to rule out any cuts.

The most controversial cost-cutting proposal to scrap Wrexham's second fire engine - the only station with three engines, two full time and one part time - would see 24 firefighter jobs lost.

Deeside and Rhyl stations could also be downgraded from 24-hour stations - with a number of roles lost - with Wrexham left as the only station in north Wales with firefighters on site 24 hours a day.

NWFRA deputy chairman Peter Lewis said councils "may object", but it would have to meet the cost by increasing council tax if the option was decided on after consultation.

He said: "We are between a rock and a hard place, that's the situation we are in."

The plans will go out to public consultation, after they are put before the full NWFRA board meeting in June.

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