Plans to close four fire stations in south east Birmingham, without naming replacement sites, were criticised by city Liberal Democrats, opening a divide with Conservative coalition partners.

City deputy leader Paul Tilsley led the attack as he quizzed the Conservative councillor Peter Howard, the council’s lead member on the West Midlands Fire Authority.

The Liberal Democrat group are opposing plans announced last month to shut Sheldon, Ward End, Billesley and Hay Mills stations and replace them with as-yet unspecified stations in Hall Green, Stechford and Shard End.

Coun Tilsley (Lib Dem, Sheldon) said: “I understand there are proposals to close four fire stations without identifying the locations for replacements.”

He said the communities affected did not want to see stations closed. And while other stations earmarked for closure such as Aston need rebuilding, those four do not.

“The majority of Birmingham city councillors are against these proposals,” he added.

But Coun Howard (Cons, Sutton Four Oaks) replied this was a proposal for public consultation and there were Liberal Democrat members on the Fire Authority.

“I hope at the end of the consultation the changes are agreed by every member of the council,” he added.

But Coun Neil Eustace (Lib Dem, Stechford and Yardley North), an authority member, questioned the need to rebuild stations. He said: “There is an arc between Shard End and Stratford Road without any fire station. The chief officer tells me it does not matter where the stations are.”