Villages fear fire risk rise in shake-up

THE community councils of rural Ettrick and Yarrow and urban Selkirk have voiced their support for the current fire and rescue service structure to be retained.

Both organisations responded to a three-month public consultation by the Scottish Government by urging the status quo, rather than the possible option of further rationalisation of brigades or a single service for Scotland.

Johnny Munro of Selkirk Community Council, who served at the Royal Burgh’s retained station for 35 years until his retirement last year, believed it would not be efficient to close the town’s Shawpark Crescent facility.

Such a move, he claimed, would probably save the Lothian and Borders service about £100,000, less than the annual salary of a single top official.

Mr Munro, delegated to respond on behalf of his community council, said: “The fire brigades in Scotland have taken years to deliver the specialist services each area has. For example, what might work in Glasgow, might not work in the rural Borders or Highlands and Islands.

“If fire brigades are delivering a satisfactory service to the community, leave them be. If its not broken don’t fix it.”

Ettrick and Yarrow Community Council fears the centralisation of services could have fatal consequences for its residents.

Its consultation response stated: “We are concerned that any decrease in the fire and rescue service currently provided will result in an increased risk of fatality should there be a serious road traffic accident or other life-threatening incident in the outer regions of the areas covered by the rescue vehicles and fire tenders based at Selkirk and Galashiels.

“It is imperative that serious injuries are treated within the vital first 60 minutes and we urge the review to bear this in mind when reviewing the position in the Scottish Borders.”

Community councillors are particularly worried about firefighters reaching any incident on the notorious Potburn road, a five mile cul-de-sac near the village of Ettrick.

They said: “It will take either a Selkirk or Galashiels tender at least 45 minutes to get to the middle of the Upper Ettrick area and over an hour for any rescue vehicle to get to the furthest end of the road.”

The Scottish Government’s fire reform consultation received 171 responses. Independent analysis of the answers shows the majority wished to see local involvement and accountability of services maintained or increased.