Agenda item

Notice of Motion - Proposal for a Fire Station on Green Belt Land in Saughall Massie

At the meeting of the Council held on 6 July 2015 (minute 31 refers), the attached Notice of Motion proposed by Councillor Chris Blakeley and seconded by Councillor Bruce Berry was referred by the Mayor to this Committee for consideration.


In accordance with Standing Order 7 (6), Councillor Blakeley has been invited to attend the meeting in order for him to be given an opportunity to explain the Motion.


Members of the Policy and Performance Regeneration and Environment Committee considered a motion to Council (6 July 2015) as proposed by Councillor Chris Blakeley and secondedby Councillor Bruce Berry, that:


“Council acknowledges the overwhelming public opposition to the proposal by Merseyside Fire and Rescue Service for a fire station on green belt land in Saughall Massie, as demonstrated by:


-   The 200 people who attended a public meeting arranged by MFRS, and a further 270 who were unable to gain admission to the venue.


-   The opposition of the Saughall Massie Village Area Conservation Society and the Wirral Society.


-   The 970 people who have, so far, signed a petition against the proposal.


Council impresses upon Cabinet:


(1)  To maintain protection of Wirral’s Green Belt, as set by agreed policies and stop inappropriate development.


(2)   Not to gift, sell or lease the land concerned in Saughall Massie, because of the value it has for the community."


(3)   To ask officers to continue to work co-operatively with Merseyside Fire and Rescue Service in identifying and facilitating a more suitable brown field site for operational purposes and to maintain the amenity of the local people.”


The Chair invited Councillor Blakeley to speak for up to a maximum of 10 minutes.


Councillor Blakeley thanked the Chairman for the opportunity to present the case in opposition to the siting of a new Fire Station on Green Belt land in Saughall Massie.


Councillor Blakeley presented a number of key points regarding  local objection to the proposed site, that included:


  • contravention of the Council’s policy of development of the ‘Green Belt’;
  • varied individual objections put forward by residents of Saughall Massie;
  • concern that Wirral Council had made its mind up in advance of submission of any planning application;
  • that the proposed site would result in extended response times to Arrowe Park Hospital;
  • fears regarding biodiversity for proposed site;
  • localised flooding in the Green Belt;
  • of 6 initial sites only 2 were considered suitable, the proposed site not listed in the original 6; and
  • concern from residents and observers that there is perception of a ‘done deal’.


The Committee heard that the motion submitted was not that of ‘objecting for the sake of objecting’ , with Saughall Massie residents in full admiration of, and supporting the work of Mersey Fire and Rescue Service. The objections put forward as part of the motion were as listed, i.e. sourcing of an alternative Brownfield site and not to gift or lease Green Belt land due to the value it has for the community thereby protecting the Green Belt in line with existing Council Policy.


The Committee noted that disposal of any Council owned land did not fall under its remit, and planning applications would be considered by the planning committee, when submitted.


During Councillor Blakeley’s address, reference was made to a number of 3rd party comments, and e-mail extracts, generating concern amongst Members regarding the sequence of events and site selection process.


A particular point arising from Councillor Blakeley’s address to the Committee was mention of a site on the Saughall Massie by-pass, 600 metres from the current proposal (referred to as the 2nd  choice site in the first round of proposals - and as informed by Councillor Blakeley, supported by Saughall Massie Residents) which had seemingly been dropped in favour of the site now under consideration.


As a result the Committee requested that a Senior Officer of the Fire Service with knowledge of the site selection process be available for questioning at its November meeting.


The Chair informed that the Committee had been requested to form a view upon the motion as presented, and at the request of Members, a vote was taken. The Committee split five in favour, five against, with one abstention. Following the Chair’s casting vote, and at his instruction.


Resolved: That


1)  a decision on the motion be deferred until the next meeting of the Committee; and


2)  the Chief Fire Officer Merseyside Fire and Rescue Service be requested to attend the next meeting of the Committee to provide clarification on the subject of site selection.



Councillors Niblock and Stapleton declared a personal and prejudicial interest in the item by virtue of their membership of the Merseyside Fire and Rescue Authority. Councillor Leech declared a non-pecuniary interest, by virtue of her membership of the Planning Committee. All three Councillors left the Committee Room whilst the item was under discussion.

Supporting documents: