Fire services could be merged to save cash

Two county fire services could merge to save cash and preserve the frontline.

Cambridgeshire and Suffolk fire and rescue services are working on plans to see if there is potential for further collaboration, which will include looking at a full merger.

Graham Stagg, chief fire officer for Cambridgeshire, said: “This is a positive and sensible move for us in the current financial climate and it is the only way we can make further savings while safeguarding the frontline.

“We have already made some very difficult decisions to save £4.2 million without frontline services being affected.

“We also have plans agreed for how we would make a further £2 million if our financial settlement for 2013/14 and 2014/15 is cut further than the original estimates made in 2010.

“However, we know that further budget cuts after 2015 are very likely. Therefore a sensible option for us is to look at collaborating further with another fire service or even merging services.

“We have already successfully combined our control room with Suffolk’s and so Suffolk is a natural choice for us.”

Cllr Fred Brown, chairman of Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Fire Authority said: “A part or full collaboration with another fire service could draw out savings by combining support departments and reducing middle and senior manager numbers.

“It is therefore only right that we give these options serious consideration, otherwise we will be left with no option but to make cuts to our frontline services.

“Part or full collaboration will give us opportunities to take best practice from both services and implement it across both counties so we continue to improve our service to the public as well as achieve the further savings we will no doubt have to find in the coming years.”

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