No cuts to King’s Lynn fire cover if council tax rise is approved
Plans to cut fire cover in Lynn as part of money-saving proposals could be axed if a council tax rise is given the green light.
Cash-strapped Norfolk Fire and Rescue unveiled plans to retain current service levels in Lynn along with plans to reduce deaths on the county’s road yesterday.
Norfolk County Council is facing a £111 million shortfall in its funding over the next three years.
Last month, the county’s communities committee approved plans to remove more than £800,000 worth of proposed savings from its budget in return for a 0.27 per cent rise in tax.
Yesterday, fire officials took their case to the policy and resources committee and the plans must also be rubber stamped by the full council.
Speaking ahead of the policy and resources meeting Chief Fire Officer Roy Harold said a public consultation has highlighted support for a tax rise rather than cuts to public services.
He said: “I am really pleased with the public feedback as it was very clear. Councillors were very keen to support us if they could and we are grateful for that support.
“My crews and teams earn that support in terms of what they do and it is heartening that the public recognise that.
“We must do more about rural and road safety. We have the option now to shift funding to that without having to cut urban cover.”
The Integrated Risk Management Plan which was presented to yesterday’s committee meeting states that the fire service will reduce £5million it spends on operational support by £900,000 over three years.
The fire service is using the £300,000 worth of savings cut by the communities committee to deliver improvements to road and rural safety.
The report states: “This reduction will allow us to avoid some of the most difficult cuts to operational support we were considering, but also gives us the opportunity to reuse a significant proportion of this £300,000 to improve the emergency response cover and safety education we provide in rural areas, particularly in relation to road safety. This will allow us to achieve the public safety benefits of redeploying our resources, without having to reduce cover in our urban areas.
“We will therefore not need to proceed at this time with the proposals to downgrade fire cover in Lynn and Gorleston from 24/7 to 12/7.
“We will continue with the proposal to upgrade cover in Dereham by using the Urban Search & Rescue team already based there to also crew one of the Dereham fire engines.
“We will review the proposals to change wholetime firefighter shift patterns and to upgrade fire cover in Thetford.”
Plans to provide a lightweight 4x4 vehicle at the Sandringham station instead of a second full-time appliance will continue.
The fire service has also set itself the challenging target to reduce the number people at well above average risk of dying in house fires to zero by 2020.