The oldest and smallest fire station in Berkshire has been given nine months to meet targets and save itself from closure.

Wargrave station, on Victoria Road, was given 12 months to improve its crewing levels or risk being shut, as part of the Royal Berkshire Fire Authority’s (RBFA) requirement to deliver a balanced budget.

This period has now ended but RBFA committee members agreed last night (November 19) to give the station another nine months to reach the target.

Reading councillor Jason Brock said: “I’d like to congratulate the retained fire fighters at Wargrave for their achievements in raising the availability rate and I’m pleased that the fire authority has given them a further nine months to reach their target.

“We have to be a bit flexible in what we are expecting in nine months, especially since this would be the second-highest rate across Berkshire.

“The team are already outperforming some other stations and the community have really got behind the campaign to keep the station open.

“Recruitment is up and it’s abundantly clear that local residents value the service provided.”

The RBFA held a public consultation last year on plans to cut costs. Closing Wargrave and Pangbourne fire stations was the most popular option.

After a campaign by Wargrave residents and parish councillors, members of the authority agreed to defer the closure.

The station, which opened in 1903, was told it must increase the availability of its crew from around six per cent to 60 per cent, having reached as low as 2.4 per cent in the last few years.

The station currently has 15 firefighters but has historically had problems recruiting and nearly had to close in 2014 after two-thirds of its crew left in two years.

The twelve-month deferment period ended on October, 1 2018. Availability reached a monthly high of 36.7% in March 2018.

The extension will end on the August 18, 2019, while RBFA has predicted that the 60% target will be reached by the beginning of 2019.

Savings of more than £640,000 will have to be found elsewhere in the budget if the station remains open. If it shuts, £488,000 will still need to be found.

Cllr Brock added: “It’s worrying that, 12 months down the line, the Tory administration on the fire authority haven’t made sustainable budget provision to keep Wargrave fire station open even if the fire fighters do achieve their target.”