East Devon MP Simon Jupp has thrown his weight behind a campaign to return Topsham’s former fire station to the town.
The MP wants to stop the town centre building from falling into the hands of developers and keep it as a community asset, run by a Topsham charity.
Mr Jupp, with the backing of Topsham’s Councillors, has launched a petition to appeal for Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue Service to sell the recently-closed building to the community.
If the ownership bid is successful, plans for the community asset include the reopening of the Fore Street building’s adjoining public toilets.
Mr Jupp has urged people to raise awareness of the community campaign, and sign the petition.
He said: “I firmly believe the building should be sold for community use with the Estuary League of Friends being among the interested parties hoping to purchase the site and also re-open the public toilets.
“Topsham’s community spirit has shone throughout the last year and returning the former fire station to the community is undoubtedly the right way forward for the town.”
He added: “Please tell everybody you know in Topsham about the petition and help spread the word to help secure the site for the community and future generations.”
Mr Jupp this week said the building, ‘will soon’ be put up for sale by DSFRS.
He said he hoped the petition would encourage the fire service to ‘look favourably’ on any bid made by a community organisation to buy the decommissioned fire station.
Backing the East Devon MP in his efforts to keep the building for the town are Exeter city and Devon County Councillors working for Topsham and St Loyes.
Joining forces with Mr Jupp are Andrew Leadbetter, Devon County Council (DCC) and Exeter City Councillor for Topsham, Keith Sparkes, Exeter City Councillor for Topsham and Rob Newby, Exeter City Councillor for Topsham.
A spokesperson for the group of Topsham Councillors said: “We fought to retain our fire station in Topsham and were gutted when the Fire Authority voted to close it – although we won the fight to get it relocated just up the road in Clyst St George.
“As a community asset, we firmly believe that the Fire Authority should prioritise the disposal of the building to a community organisation, meaning that local residents continue to enjoy and benefit from this much-loved building.
“We urge everyone who believes that the building should remain in community ownership to sign the petition, which will demonstrate to the Fire Authority the public feeling on this issue.”
Topsham Fire Station closed in early December 2020 and at that time the fire service said it expected to make a decision on its future in February 2021.
In December 2020 Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue Service (DSFRS) said it planned to approach local councils, in writing, to consider if there was a ‘viable option’ for community uses for the building.
Topsham Fire Station, which served the town for decades, was closed by the Fire Authority as part of the fire service’s Safer Together cost-cutting consultation.
Budleigh Salterton also lost its fire station as part of the same money-saving exercise.
The building was bought after newly-formed group Budleigh Community Workshop Trust launched a successful fundraising campaign to raise more than £200,000 to keep the building for the town.
To sign the petition to keep Topsham Fire Station for the town, see here.