Firefighters' fears on response times as council proposes changes to A34 in Stone
FIREFIGHTERS have warned response times will be hit if plans to construct a central reservation on a busy dual carriageway are approved.
Staffordshire County Council wants to block the gap between the two carriageways on the A34 at the junction of The Fillybrooks and Whitemill Lane, in Stone, because of a high number of traffic incidents at the stretch.
The move will prohibit motorists from making a right turn in or out of Whitemill Lane from the dual carriageway.
But Staffordshire Fire and Rescue Service has hit out at the proposals, claiming firefighters use the gap to reach emergencies quicker.
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The service is now urging Staffordshire County Council to re-think the plans.
David Lawrence from Staffordshire Fire and Rescue Service's emergency response team, said: "We have concerns regarding the proposed closure of the gap on the A34, as we believe this is likely to impact on firefighter response time, which ultimately has the potential to impact on incident response times. A number of retained firefighters responding to Stone Fire Station use the gap to get to the station quickly.
"If they're unable to use the gap, it would mean taking a longer route to join the Eccleshall road and then approach the fire station from the roundabout, which is frequently a very busy area and could therefore delay their arrival to the station."
He added: "Firefighters responding to their alerters have five minutes to get from home to the fire station and are not exempt from traffic laws.
"They have no blue lights or sirens and must travel to the station the same as anyone else using that route.
"We have expressed these concerns and are currently awaiting the outcome of the proposals."
Stone Town Council opposed the initiative over fears it would cause congestion for families living in Walton.
Ward councillor Jill Hood, of The Fillybrooks, said: "If it went ahead it would be ridiculous because it would mean people wanting to use Eccleshall Road would have to go all the way to the bottom of the A34 and go around the roundabout to come back up.
"But nobody is going to do that, people would just use the Walton estate as a shortcut instead.
"It would be dangerous because there is a school close by and it would become a rat run."
A spokesman for Staffordshire County Council said: "We are still in negotiations with the fire service and other local partners regarding this scheme."