Front-line fire service cuts warning

FRONT-LINE fire services will be affected in a new round of budget cuts.

This warning came at last Wednesday’s (March 21) meeting of West Sussex County Council’s community services select committee, which was told savings of £2.5million would have to made by the fire and rescue service.

A report from county fire officer Max Hood said: “Savings of this scale cannot be achieved without affecting front-line services. However, at this stage, it is anticipated that there will be no closures of fire stations in order to ensure that the service can achieve its target against published response times.”

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Councillors were reminded that budget cuts in 2010-11 (which included closing the retained fire station at Findon) had already achieved savings of £1.5million.

Outlining further efficiency measures, Mr Hood said these would include a single fire control and mobilising centre for both West and East Sussex fire services that would deliver savings in the region of £450,000.

He said the government had provided £1.8million support funding for the East/West Sussex control centre, with arrangements yet to be finalised.

A previously proposed full merger between the two fire services was not feasible in the current timescale, and would not take place on April 1, 2013, as originally planned.

The committee was yesterday being recommended to reconvene the fire and rescue service task force early next month, to examine the detailed proposals, which are planned to be confirmed on September 28 this year.