THE former chairman of South Yorkshire Fire Authority said Barnsley’s forthcoming new fire station will be a ‘huge benefit’ for the town’s future.

Coun Chris Lamb, who now has a role on Barnsley Council’s ruling cabinet, took over as the fire authority’s chair from former councillor Linda Burgess and spent a year in the position.

One of his key roles was overseeing the next steps of the long-awaited £4m new station, which will involve the existing building on Broadway, Kingstone, being demolished to make way for the new facility.

A start date of December has been mooted, with a scheduled completion of October 2020 earmarked.

Coun Lamb told the Chronicle: “I loved my time on the authority and I really enjoyed working with some smashing colleagues who put in a great amount of work.

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“The chairmanship always used to sit with Barnsley Council but a few years ago it changed and, as the fire authority is made up of Barnsley, Doncaster, Rotherham and Sheffield, the new schedule rotates around on a term from June to June.

“I never stepped down as my year was due to end, but I expressed an interest in a place on the cabinet following Coun Roy Miller’s retirement.

“The new fire station was a big part of that, following on from Linda’s work, and we had to make sure we didn’t lose any momentum as it’s of utmost importance for Barnsley.

“We owe it to the firefighters, who put their lives on the line every time they arrive for their shift, to provide them with the best facility we possibly can.”

Coun Lamb’s successor, Rotherham councillor Robert Taylor, is a former firefighter who spent 32 years with South Yorkshire Fire and Rescue and time at the former Royston station.

Coun Taylor has stepped into the job as the service and authority face the wrangle of trying to balance budgets against a potential blackhole of £4m, which could occur as a result of pension recalculations by the government and a legal ruling which means more money needs to be spent on crewing some fire stations in future.

“As soon as I was elected, I looked at my strengths and weaknesses,” he told the Local Democracy Reporting Service. “I realised from sitting in and listening to debates about the fire service that my background gave me a better insight than most of my colleagues.

“Right from the outset I put myself forward more in hope than expectation and eventually one of the fire authority members went to be mayor and I filled that place.

“Luckily, I was chosen again and asked to be chair.”