The Chair of West Yorkshire Fire Authority, Clr Darren O’Donovan said the site has not been singled out for closure and that proposed changes are part of an ongoing 10-year programme of reconfiguration.Instead he said it would be relocated to the fire service headquarters at Birkenshaw.
He denied that it was his “intent” to shut the Hightown Road site.
That did not find favour with veteran Cleckheaton councillor Kath Pinnock.
She said the Cleckheaton location was “vital” as it provides “a speedy back access to the M62”, which she believes will be lost if the decision to close is confirmed.
She questioned why fire chiefs had changed position over the last seven months: from investing in the station to shutting it.
Speaking at a virtual meeting of the full Kirklees Council on September 9th she said: “Using words like ‘We’re not closing Cleckheaton Fire Station’ will not be what will happen.
“Cleckheaton Fire Station WILL close and services for some people in Cleckheaton will come from Brighouse, and access for fire service vehicles from Brighouse is difficult at the best of times.
“It’s a poor decision that’s being proposed, especially as in February the fire service agreed to spend money on re-building the fire station. I’d like to know why that hasn’t happened.
“How are you going to ensure that traffic accidents on the M62 will be reached as fast as they are now?”
Clr O’Donovan said senior officers were deliberating on the results of an eight-week consultation, which recently ended, and that a final decision would be made “by the authority as a whole” on September 18.
Fire chiefs have said that the move could save £2m.
Clr O’Donovan (Lab, Dewsbury West) said senior firefighters “with the technical know-how” were scrutinising risk, management and response times in different areas.
He added: “There is quite a large financial and risk-based context to this that’s affected the whole of West Yorkshire.
“All the districts have seen changes to the number of their firefighters and fire cover over the last 10 years.
“Officers are not in any way singling out Cleckheaton. This is a modernisation process related to altered risk around the area.”
He said the proposed changes in Cleckheaton followed the closure of Batley and Dewsbury stations and a merger into one site, a closure at Haworth, and the merger of stations in Elland and Brighouse into a single new site at Rastrick.
He pointed out that that reconfiguration reflected “a hugely reduced funding pot” and “a reduced fire risk” over the last decade.
“I wouldn’t want the public to think that the officers are picking on Cleckheaton because this is a 10-year improvement plan where the officers want to see a much more dynamic, future-proof facility.
“The proposal is not to close Cleckheaton Fire Station. The proposal is to relocate all the appliances and all the firefighters to the HQ site. That’s the proposal.”