Mildenhall fire fighters have welcomed a decision to drop plans to move their fire station to the proposed ‘hub’ on the edge of town.
The retained fire crew began a campaign against the move from North Terrace, in the middle of town, as soon as the possibility was announced of it being part of the local government hub, which includes a school and leisure centre.
Graham Abrey, watch commander, said their biggest objection was safety because in a call-out fire fighters hurrying to the station would have to drive through the same entrance as parents dropping off and on through the school bus park. The fire engine would then use the shared exit road.
He said: “You’re going to have 1,500 pupils there and when you look at what happens near other schools, with parents dropping kids off and kids on their phones not paying attention – they’re all going to go in the same entrance.”
The fire fighters argued that the hub will be on the already busy Queensway, where parked cars already cause problems for the 14 tonne fire engine, where the current station is near the junction of four roads, offering alternative routes.
The fire fighters would also have lost the training house behind the fire station where they practise skills, including fighting tower fires.
Mr Abrey said: “They’re going to spend £1.1 million to get worse response times and worse facilities.”
But yesterday, Suffolk County Council made the surprise announcement that the plan was dropped.
Leader of Suffolk County Council, Cllr Colin Noble, said they had listened to views expressed at consultation meetings.
He added: “We fully support the development of the Hub and the principle of sharing estates with partner organisations, however, we have reflected on all the points and concerns raised during these meetings and decided that the fire station will remain at the current site.”
Mr Abrey said: “I’m greatly surprised that they’ve rolled over. They were getting a lot of negativity from their intended money-saving activity, but that’s come as a bolt from the blue.”
He hoped money would now be spent on double glazing and more efficient heating at the 1950s station and suggested ambulances could also be based there, as at Bury St Edmunds fire station.
“It doesn’t need a lot of investment to make it good for another 50 years,” he said.