8:55am Friday 30th August 2013
By Gary Bills-Geddes
THE fire service would seriously consider selling its Bye Street station to a supermarket developer.
But the public will not know the outcome of those discussions until a formal planning application for a Lawnside Road superstore has been submitted.
Alex Hemming, communications officer for the Hereford and Worcester Fire and Rescue Service, said: “We would give any proposals an appropriate amount of consideration, were we to be approached.”
Alan Jones, capital projects manager at the fire service, said: “The fire service has not yet been approached by developers but will comment on proposals in due course once a formal planning application has been submitted."
The news comes as developer Philip King, of PLK Properties, said he was about to start formal discussions with the fire service with a view to getting a right-to-buy option on the station.
Mr King already has a right-to-buy option on a number of properties in the Lawnside Road area, including Electric House, the Workshop and the former ambulance station, which is next door to the fire station.
And Mr King believes that the fire service’s current financial review could be a factor in those discussions.
He said: “They are undergoing a fairly mayor review, for budgetary reasons; so these discussions are still to be officially had.
“I welcome their openness, obviously.”
However, the news has been branded a “bad idea”
by Yvonne White, a former Ledbury retailer and a committee member for the Voice of Ledbury Facebook forum.
She said: “I am sad and disappointed. What else can you say?
“I ask the fire service to consider the people of Ledbury, who rely on them.
“If the station was elsewhere, such as out on the bypass, the response to emergencies in town would be definitely less prompt, in my view.
“With the superstore there, fire engines would need to get into town with all those extra cars coming in.
“It’s a bad idea.”
Herefordshire Councillor for Ledbury Peter Watts said he also didn’t want to see the station relocated.
“I don’t think the fire station will move; but if they are offered a plot of land and everything is done for them, they might move," he said.
“Cut backs may or may not make our fire station vulnerable, but we want to keep the station where it is.”
* All the businesses on which Mr King has a right-to-buy option are trading as normally.
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