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Wiltshire & Swindon fire services set to join forces with Dorset
9:54am Friday 13th December 2013 in News
OVER the last week, elected members of Wiltshire & Swindon and Dorset Fire Authorities have agreed to work towards developing a business case, paving the way for a potential combination of both Fire Authorities and Services by April 2016.
At meetings of Dorset Fire Authority and Wiltshire & Swindon Fire Authority, papers from both Chief Fire Officers were considered. These papers set out the need for a period of ‘due diligence’ to develop a business case that would identify savings and resilience improvements from a combination of Wiltshire & Swindon and Dorset Fire Authorities and the two respective fire and rescue services.
Both Authorities are in the lower quartile of spend for fire and rescue services nationally, and both have been extremely successful in finding savings in the face of reduced funding from central government. However, the longer term forecast remains bleak if response standards and frontline services are to be protected wherever possible.
A joint statement from Cllr Graham Payne, Chairman of Wiltshire & Swindon Fire Authority, and Cllr Rebecca Knox, Chairman of Dorset Fire Authority, said: “Both Services have and continue to make substantial savings, but the level of grant we receive from Government will continue to decline. In order to minimise any impact on frontline services and in particular the level of response we provide to our communities, Members of both Fire Authorities have agreed to explore closer working with a view to combination in 2016. We believe that this will provide significant savings, lessen the reductions to front line services, and ensure our key support departments are resilient. We will also be consulting on the move to a Joint Command and Control Centre in Potterne, Wiltshire in 2015. We appreciate that this is an uncertain time for staff and we will be working closely with them and representative bodies over the coming months.”
Simon Routh-Jones, Chief Fire Officer of Wiltshire, and Darran Gunter, Chief Fire Officer of Dorset, said: “Our priority is to protect the services we provide to the public. As individual and relatively small fire and rescue services, we cannot sustain the continued reductions in Government grant and maintain response standards without significant change to our organisations. In order to protect frontline services to the best of our ability, we have concluded that the best solution is for the two organisations to combine. Together, we can achieve so much more and combination will give us an opportunity to explore new ways of working. As well as achieving significant savings, this will give us greater resilience and allow us to continue providing an efficient and effective Fire & Rescue Service to our local communities.”
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