LOCAL Conservatives have unveiled an alternative plan to closing the ambulance control centre at Bransford.

The plan calls not only for the retention of the Bransford centre, but its expansion to make it one of three major centres in the West Midlands.

Protests arose earlier this year when the West Midlands Ambulance Service Trust, newly formed from the merger of several smaller authorities, announced it wanted to axe the centre.

Under the plan, emergency calls could be answered up to 60 miles away at centres in Stafford or Brierley Hill.

But staff at the centre, and members of the public, fear the closure will mean longer response times, putting lives at risk.

The new proposal will be presented to the trust at Bransford by MP Sir Michael Spicer and Tory candidates Harriett Baldwin and Robin Walker today (Friday). It is also being supported by other local MPs and candidates.

They say the Bransford centre should be enlarged to become a major centre alongside Brierley Hill and Stafford, and create better links between them, to give the system more resilience. And they think the proposal is no more expensive than the trust's, and may even be cheaper.

"We want to make sure the rural areas such as South Worcestershire and Herefordshire don't get marginalised as the service is concentrated in the West Midlands," said Harriett Baldwin.

The three-month consultation about the future of the centre finishes on Monday (October 1), so there are only a few more days to take part.

The trust's board will hear the results of the consultation at a meeting in Redditch on Wednesday, October 9. However, the final decision will be taken at a meeting on November 28 at Walsall Football Club, Walsall.