From Keighley News, March 9th, 2019
Written by Alistair Shand
KEIGHLEY is to get a new £2.2 million fire station. West Yorkshire Fire Authority has confirmed that the existing Bradford Road building, which is nearly 55 years old, will be replaced in the 2020/21 financial year. The news has been welcomed by the town's MP, John Grogan, who added he hoped it would be followed by an announcement soon regarding a new Keighley police station. "I welcome the fact Keighley is in line to get a brand-new modern fire station," he said. "I'm very hopeful that this will be followed later this year by an announcement about a new police station to be built in the town centre on the site of the old college building, which is set to be demolished.
"Together these new buildings should put our local emergency services on a good footing for decades to come."
The fire service revealed last year that it was looking at either replacing or refurbishing its Keighley station, but a final decision had still to be made.
Now a financial report produced by the fire authority has outlined a number of major projects, funded by capital reserves, that the service will carry out in the coming years.
The Keighley scheme will be followed by a £2.5m new-build fire station at Halifax in 2021/22 and a similar £3m project for Huddersfield in 2022/23.
A £13m new-build of the brigade headquarters at Birkenshaw is also proposed.
Dave Williams, Yorkshire and Humber regional secretary of the Fire Brigades Union, supports the Keighley scheme.
But he questions the planned spending on the HQ project, which he says would be better devoted to keeping firefighters and protecting fire stations.
"I think we should be working on keeping retained firefighters in places like Silsden, Otley and Ilkley rather than spending it this way," he said.
"I don’t mind money being invested in areas that need it. Keighley really needs £2.2 million spending on it. The building is run down, and it's the same with Halifax and Huddersfield."
He said £550,000 was already set aside to spend on the Birkenshaw site in the coming year.
Councillor Michael Westerman, chairman of Keighley Town Council's watch and transport committee, welcomes the principle of a new station in Keighley but says it should be coupled with increased frontline resources.
"You have to question whether there's any point spending £2.2 million on a building to house one fire appliance," he said.
"Perhaps the authority could spend just £10m on the buildings at Birkenshaw and put the remaining £3m towards more appliances and frontline staff.
"This is also a good opportunity to bring all the blue-light services onto a single site in Keighley."
A spokesman for West Yorkshire Fire & Rescue Service said a feasibility study was currently being undertaken into options to redevelop all or some of the buildings at Birkenshaw.
"Currently the buildings on the site are ageing and require excessive maintenance," said the spokesman.
"We are looking at how we can provide a suitable and sustainable headquarters site for current and future employees.
"In light of this, it makes sense to consider the possibility of funding this in a number of years’ time.
"At this early stage all we are doing is considering how we might ensure that the central support and training facilities at Birkenshaw are fit to take West Yorkshire Fire & Rescue forward into the future. No decision has been taken as to how we may best achieve that as yet."