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Wargrave Fire Station at risk as public consultation results are announced

Wargrave Fire Station could be in the firing line after the Royal Berkshire Fire and Rescue Service (RBFRS) announced results of its public consultation on plans to save £1.4m today (Friday).

The savings, which are being made due to Government funding cuts, will result from one of seven savings plans being put into effect.

The £1.4m is part of RBFRS’s need to save £2.4m by April 2020 to balance its budget.

The options were part of a public consultation held between December 2016 and March 2017.

Option one, which would see Wargrave Fire Station closing, was the most popular option, with 42.91 per cent of respondents choosing it.

Wargrave Fire Station would also close as part of option five, which 4.66 per cent of respondents preferred and option six, which was chosen by 3.14 per cent.

In February, former Wargrave Fire Station watch manager Tony Annetts described the closure of Wargrave’s station as a ‘foregone conclusion’ and started a petition to save it.

A decision on a savings plan will be announced at a RBFRS meeting on Tuesday, April 18 at the service's Reading headquarters.

Speaking at a press briefing earlier today, RBFRS's assistant chief fire officer Simon Jefferies said although public consultation is important, it is not the only deciding factor.

He said: "It's not a referendum on the options, it's not a case of the one that gets the largest amount of votes is the one we pick."

West Berkshire Councillor Emma Webster, the council's lead fire authority member made reassurances about potential closures which could also include Pangbourne Fire Station.

She said: "It was not done to put people at risk. They [residents] will still have fire cover, it will just come from a different place than they expected."

She said the options were formed based on 'risk to the general public.'

During the consultation 31.62 per cent of responses came from the borough of Wokingham compared to 13.13 per cent from the Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead and 5.78 per cent from Slough.

Wokingham's favourite option was option four, which would only see Pangbourne Fire Station close.

Slough voted by 83 per cent for option one which would see Wargrave and Pangbourne closing.

The Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead voted to do nothing at all and save no money, with 28 per cent choosing option seven.

Details on April 18th’s meeting and savings plans can be found on www.rbfrs.co.uk by clicking About Us, Fire Authority then Calendar of Meetings.

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