Page last updated at 13:03 GMT, Friday, 24 July 2009 14:03 UK

Council challenges fire control

Windsor Fire Station
Windsor Fire Station is set to close between 2000 and 0800 GMT

A Berkshire council is forging ahead with plans to take over local control of a fire authority in a bid to change future plans for Windsor Fire Station.

Campaigners with celebrity backing lost a High Court bid to block plans to withdraw night-time service at Windsor.

But the Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead Council agreed on Thursday to apply to the government to take over local running of the fire authority.

The authority claimed the station only averaged three calls a week at night.

But fire station campaigners disputed this, saying the station log showed that it took between one and two calls every night between 1800 and 0900 GMT.

Log figures from 2005 to 2009 showed every year the station took an average of about 450 night-time calls.

Councillors from all parties have agreed to send a proposal to the Local Government Authority.

If we get the go-ahead, it will be the same services as today but a different decision-making process
Council leader David Burbage

If successful, the Department of Communities and Local Government will give a final decision on the matter.

Windsor Council said it will look to reverse the decision to withdraw night-services at the town's fire station, which is due to come into effect next year.

A High Court judge turned down a bid to stop the plans in February.

The judge observed that Windsor was the quietest 24-hour crewed station at night time, averaging three calls a week during night hours [2000 GMT to 0800 GMT].

But council leader David Burbage believes the service is vital and claims the fire authority under spent by £1.1m last year - more than double the cost of keeping Windsor Fire Station open round the clock.

He said: "If we get the go-ahead, it will be the same services as today but a different decision-making process.

"By retaining the current service people in Windsor would have a better service."

But the fire authority said the plans in Windsor were "part of a county-wide programme to improve levels of fire cover where it is most needed".

In a statement the authority added: "We believe the Royal Borough's proposal to be the first of its kind in the country and we are waiting to hear how this progresses and what the outcome will be."

A campaign to keep Windsor Fire Station open 24 hours a day drew support from celebrities including Sir Elton John, Rolf Harris, Sir Alan Sugar, Piers Morgan, Natalie Imbruglia, Sir Michael Parkinson, golfer Nick Faldo, Sir Cliff Richard and double Olympic gold medallist Dame Kelly Holmes.

Although the Royal Family avoid becoming involved in political battles, they had tacitly backed the move.

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