ON Monday 23rd October Hertfordshire County Council gave five hours notice of closure of Radlett fire station, betraying understandings and agreements made with the local community which would have kept this vitally needed fire station open.
This fire station played a vital role in the Buncefield oil depot fire disaster, saving the local community, for which they were declared heroes by the Blair government.
Now the community is to be without a fire station, at the same time as the nearby Hemel Hempstead hospital faces closure.
On 28th March 2006, Herts County Council took the decision, at a full County Council meeting with public and press present, to close Radlett Fire Station.
At that meeting, the Chairman of the County Council, David Beatty, gave the people of Radlett three months, until 31st July, to come up with an agreement to contribute financially to Radlett Fire Station in response to the community’s strongly expressed wish to preserve the local emergency service.
This way forward was actively pursued by the Action Group, Aldenham Parish Council, Radlett’s County Councillor and Member of Parliament.
Aldenham Parish Council confirmed they would provide £25,000 annually towards the fire station. Hertfordshire County Council was aware of this commitment.
Radlett’s County Councillor, in discussion with Save Radlett Fire Station Action Group, prepared Heads of Agreement for the system of payment from Radlett to support the fire station.
These were agreed and the first draft of a Legal Agreement prepared. This was not acceptable to Hertfordshire County Council.
A time extension to 31/08/2006 was granted and Save Radlett Fire Station Action Group agreed on 30/08/2006 to further Hertfordshire County Councils requirements.
Carolynne Brown, Chairman of the Action Group said it had actively pursued fund raising for the £100,000 needed, and raised the first required payment of £15,000 – due on 15th November 2006 – even though there are funds in Hertfordshire County Council’s Budget for Radlett Fire Station until March 2007.
She said: ‘No one from Herts County Council has approached Save Radlett Fire Station Action Group to ascertain the progress of our fund raising activities or to discuss the matter further’.
Brown added that the ‘highhanded action’ last Monday ‘is a betrayal of the understandings and agreements made with Hertfordshire County Council which would have provided the cheapest fire station in Hertfordshire.
‘It tramples on the wishes of the people of Radlett who wrote over 2,000 letters of objection to the closure of the station’.