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CRMP Consultation enters its fifth week

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The Community Risk Management Plan (CRMP) proposes significant changes to fire engines and fire stations in order to address about 40% of an annual budget shortfall which rises to £4.7 million within three years. It sets out how the Service proposes to make £2m savings from the frontline operational response. The remaining savings will be made from back office and managerial changes. This is in addition to the £2.5m savings which have already been made from non-frontline services.

Cllr Derek Prodger MBE, Chairman of Hereford & Worcester Fire Authority said: “The Fire Authority is facing a very challenging financial position over the next few years and clearly recognises that difficult decisions have to be taken in the future.

“Since 2010/11, £2.5m of savings have made without affecting the service that communities receive from their local fire stations, but the £4.7m is an additional saving requirement.

“It is anticipated that approximately 40% of the savings can be found from further changes to back office and support functions. However, the scale of the savings required will inevitably mean some changes to the frontline.”

The draft CRMP sets out proposals for removing fire engines and/or fire stations; aiming to minimise the impact on the Service and local communities. Proposals 1 and 2 present the Service’s considered view of how fire engines can be removed with the least impact. Proposal 3 presents a choice between fire engines in four local areas or clusters. Depending on which fire engine is removed, this proposal potentially involves the closure of fire stations.

Proposal 1
This proposal is to remove one of the two wholetime crewed fire engines from each of Hereford and Worcester fire stations, and one of the two on-call fire engines from Redditch fire station. If this proposal is implemented these three fire stations will have exactly the same number of fire engines crewed in exactly the same manner.

Proposal 2
This proposal requires the removal of one of the two on-call fire engines from each of Bromyard, Ledbury and Tenbury Wells fire stations.

Proposal 3
This proposal removes four fire engines, one from each of four clusters:

  • North Worcestershire – it is considered that the least impact can be achieved by closing Bewdley fire station, rather than removing a fire engine from Kidderminster.
  • South Worcestershire – it is considered that the least impact can be achieved by closing Broadway fire station, rather than removing a fire engine from Evesham.
  • North Herefordshire – a choice needs to be made between either removing one of the two on-call fire engines from Leominster fire station or closing Kingsland fire station.
  • South Herefordshire – a choice needs to be made between either removing one of the two on-call fire engines from Ross-on-Wye fire station or closing Whitchurch fire station.

Cllr Prodger confirmed that earlier this week he travelled to Westminster with Chief Fire Officer Mark Yates, to meet with Worcestershire MPs and the Fire Minister. The talks were based around the funding for Hereford & Worcester Fire Authority and the fact that it receives a grant settlement which equals approximately £14 per head of population compared to the national average which is approximately £20. A more equitable settlement nearer to the national average would alleviate some of the Authority’s financial pressures.

The extensive 12-week consultation process will last until January 10 2014, and is requesting views and comments from the public and the Service’s key stakeholders from across Herefordshire and Worcestershire.

Responses from the official consultation questionnaire will be collated into a report which will go before the Fire Authority on February 19 2014 and help to inform the final decision.

The questionnaire can be completed online at www.hwfire.org.uk/consultation and a printable copy can be also found there along with a postal address.

Feedback will also be sought on the Service’s social media sites where people can comment on the proposals using #tellHWFire.