Dec 7 2011 By Ian Proctor
A fire truck
HARROW Council has been forced to backtrack over the "hypothetical idea" of closing the borough's two fire stations and ambulance station and replacing them with a 'super centre'.
It apologised for erroneously raising the suggestion of such a hub - cited as an example of how public bodies could co-locate services to save money - after the Observer began asking questions of the project as mentioned in a report to the Harrow Strategic Partnership, which manages local multi-agency projects such as stop smoking initiatives.
Councillor Susan Hall, leader of the council's Conservative opposition and a member of London Fire and Emergency Planning Authority (LFEPA), said: "I'm absolutely incensed that council officers who wrote the report don't know how the fire brigade works. It does not work on a borough by borough basis but a pan-London one, and resources are shared across borders.
"I can assure Harrow's residents we are not closing any fire stations."
London Assembly member for Harrow and Brent and LFEPA member Councillor Navin Shah (Labour) said: "Quite frankly, while one believes in sharing resources for economic reasons, you certainly should not do it at the cost of putting lives in danger. The partnership has picked the absolutely worst example."
The services affected would in theory be Harrow Fire Station in Pinner Road, Harrow, and Stanmore Fire Station in Honeypot Lane, Stanmore, and Pinner Ambulance Station in Imperial Drive, Harrow.
The report said: "There is an opportunity to establish a single borough facility for emergency services, by bringing the two fire stations and the
ambulance station together with the council’s operational vehicles and depot into a centrally located base, together with a shared services platform for all relevant support functions."
The London Fire Brigade confirmed it had no plans to reduce the number of fire stations anywhere in London and said the consolidation onto one site in Harrow would be opposed since it was "very likely" to cause deterioration in attendance times to incidents.
Councillor Bill Stephenson (Labour), leader of Harrow Council, said: “We apologise to colleagues in the London Fire Brigade and to residents for publishing this hypothetical idea and for any concern it may have caused.
"It was purely an idea but it was not discussed with the LFB, nor would we take any such proposal forward without the backing of our partners."