PLANS for a new fire station and safety centre in Lymm have been submitted despite opposition from the Cheshire Fire Brigade Union.
Members have said the proposals for the site on Cliff Lane will be of little benefit to residents and are angry more than £4m is being spent on a safety centre at a time when 160 fulltime firefighter posts have been cut in Cheshire.
But Cheshire Fire chiefs have said the new station, formerly a truck stop located near the M56/M6 interchange, will help improve response times and the centre will provide important education and prevention programmes.
The safety centre, which will cost 500,000 a year to run, includes a 360° ‘immersive virtual learning zone’ as well as a ‘lifesize three-bedroom house’ and will be targeted at schools to reduce accidental deaths and injuries due to fire.
Dave Williams, Cheshire Brigade Union secretary, said: “There are a couple of centres like this up and down the country but I don’t believe they have been as successful as everyone hoped.
“In the present climate it seems the wrong time to be spending more than £4m and it could be difficult for schools to access this building rather than firefighters visiting schools.
“It’s very frustrating when we’re told nothing can be done about posts being lost but £4m can be found for a safety centre.”
Keith Brooks, Cheshire Fire’s head of prevention and protection, said the number of fires across Cheshire has fallen to an ‘all time low’ due to investment in prevention work.
He added: “This investment must continue if we are to achieve our vision of a Cheshire where there are no deaths, injuries or damage from fires and other emergencies.
“This will be a fantastic facility that will help us engage with people of all ages for generations to come and equipping people with the skills they need to stay safe.
“The messages this centre will help us deliver will undoubtedly save lives – something we feel is worth investing in.”
The suggestion the safety centre could have been included in the recently built fire control centre at Lingley Mere, Great Sankey was also dismissed as it is a ‘purpose-built centre’ and not a ‘venue meant for public access’.