Fire authority agrees to look at merger

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CAMBRIDGESHIRE and Peterborough Fire Authority made the decision today (11) to complete a full business case investigating savings that could be ealised through further collaboration with Suffolk Fire and Rescue Service.

At this afternoon’s meeting, members considered the summary document that had been prepared by Cambridgeshire Fire and Rescue Service (CFRS) and approved further work to be conducted to see if further collaboration, up to a full merger, is a viable financial option.

A similar meeting will now take place at Suffolk County Council’s Cabinet meeting next Tuesday (16), and if approved, work on the full business case will go ahead and will be taken back to both the Fire Authority and Cabinet in the New Year for a final decision.

Fred Brown, Chairman of Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Fire Authority said: “Suffolk Fire and Rescue Service has some similarities and we’ve already established the benefits of joint working in us delivering Fire Control for Suffolk. This has proved very successful and has demonstrated benefits for both authorities. It remains the obvious choice for us to investigate further collaborative working.

“The key word in this is investigate. It’s important to both parties that the full business case is robust, especially in light of recent announcements on council tax levels going forward. A full business case is sensible for both parties to find out exactly where we stand financially. We need to do this to ensure that it is the best decision for the people of Cambridgeshire. We will not make a final decision on this until all the facts are clear.”

Graham Stagg, Chief Fire Officer for Cambridgeshire Fire and Rescue

Service said: “We cannot ignore what is happening in the wider world. The financial situation for public sector organisations does not look like it is improving and we need to be prepared for the next Comprehensive Spending

Review in 2015 in which it is likely that futher cuts to fire and rescue service budgets will be made. In order to prepare for this, we need to fully examine all the options that we have for saving further money from this date, without impacting on our frontline resources.”

Andy Fry, Suffolk’s Chief Fire Officer said: “I’m very pleased to have witnessed the decision taken today by members of Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Fire Authority.

“Subject to a similar decision being taken by councillors in Suffolk next week it will enable myself and my officer colleagues from Cambridgeshire to fully explore the opportunities available for sharing resources to protect the frontline service.”