D-day for key fire service budget cut proposals

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KEY decisions on how Cambridgeshire Fire and Rescue Service (CFRS) would tackle budget cuts of over £4.2 million need to be made sooner rather than later, say senior managers.

Then, if the results of the Government Spending Formula mean the fire service budget is cut by an additional £1.8 million (£6 million in total), it can act quickly to ensure that all savings are made in time.

To ensure this, CFRS is making the following recommendations to Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Fire Authority this Spring.

At a meeting due to be held by Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Fire Authority tomorrow (Thursday February 23), CFRS will propose that key decisions are made on the status of Huntingdon Fire Station and the removal of one of three rescue vehicles from the service.

And on May 24 further key decisions will be proposed, including the possible closure of Manea fire station among other changes such as the removal of the second fire engines at Soham, Ely, St Ives and Ramsey.

Chris Strickland, Deputy Chief Fire Officer for CFRS said: “These are not decisions that we welcome having to propose, however, we do need to be realistic. We remain one of the leanest fire services in the country, and a £6 million budget cuts would be a reduction of about 20 per cent of our overall budget. Clearly we can’t absorb this without some impact on our front-line services and this needs to be understood by both Fire Authority members and members of the public.

“The key thing to stress is that if the fire authority agree with the recommendations, the decisions will only be implemented if the service cannot make the £4.2 million savings already identified or if the results of the Government Spending Formula mean we have to make additional savings over and above the £4.2 million we have already planned for.”

Cuts already identified include cutting support services, removing the hazardous materials unit, removal of the service’s two turntable ladders following the successful implementation of two combined aerial rescue appliances and a reduction in officers including the loss of one group commander.

Mr Strickland said: “Thanks to the quick decisions that our Fire Authority made in May last year, we have been able to start implementing some of the work which is needed to make £4.2 million worth of budget cuts. It is now imperative that this work continues.

“If the authority agree these second round of decisions, it will enable the fire service to act quickly, if and when needed.”