Controversial changes to North Yorkshire fire service approved

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Zoe MetcalfeImage source, LDRS
Image caption,
North Yorkshire Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner Zoe Metcalfe said the changes would allow investment

Changes to fire service provision in North Yorkshire are to go ahead, the Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner (PFCC) has said.

Huntington fire station, near York, will become an on-call station and Harrogate fire station will only have one appliance staffed overnight.

Commissioner Zoe Metcalfe said the decision was based on "extensive evidence".

The plans have drawn criticism from the Fire Brigades Union and politicians.

The Conservative commissioner previously said the changes were not about saving money, but ensuring resources were in the right places.

Ms Metcalfe said: "I have made these decisions to support the transformation of our fire and rescue service based on extensive evidence."

She said she had also taken into consideration what people said during a three-month public consultation.

Switching Huntington to on-call rather than full-time was, Ms Metcalfe said, based on the fact there were more emergency resources in the York area than the risk or demand required.

The Labour MP for York Central, Rachael Maskell had previously said this had "serious implications" for the city and the proposal was fought by the city's Liberal Democrat group.

Image source, LDRS
Image caption,
York's Liberal Democrat group campaigned against the proposals for Huntington fire station

Harrogate fire station currently has an emergency rescue fire engine and a smaller tactical response fire engine which are both staffed around the clock.

Under the plan, the smaller vehicle will be replaced with a second larger vehicle, however it will only be crewed during peak hours.

This will be subjected to a three-year review before the PFCC looks to adopt a similar model for Scarborough fire station.

Image source, Gordon Hatton/Geograph
Image caption,
The changes were proposed by fire service chiefs

Ms Metcalfe said any savings made would be re-invested into key priorities, such as improving the availability of on-call fire engines in rural areas and increasing prevention and protection work.

She added she was confident the "right people, will be in the right place, with the right equipment at the right time".

The model being adopted was proposed by the fire service and the chief fire officer Jonathan Dyson said it provided a "sustainable commitment to keep the communities of North Yorkshire and York safe".

It comes after the Fire Brigades Union (FBU) warned earlier this year the service's finances left it "struggling to buy the basics".

According to the Local Democracy Reporting Service, it had previously said changes to fire crews would leave North Yorkshire with a "second-rate emergency response service that will put lives at risk".

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