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Views sought on proposed changes to the Fire Service

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Meeting at Brockington Hall in Hereford, the twenty-five councillors of the FRA headed by Chairman Derek Prodger MBE were presented with the details of the CRMP and gave their authorisation for views and local perspectives to be sought on proposals to reduce the level of fire and emergency cover.

The CRMP examines ways in which the Fire Service could make significant financial savings in order to meet its budget gap of 4.7 million by 2016/17.

Since 2010/11, £2.5m of savings have been identified and 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 half 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 fire cover provision will have to be made.

Therefore 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.

An extensive programme of consultation meetings with appropriate groups and interested parties has been prepared, including with firefighters at those stations most affected, in addition to the wider general public consultation.

The questions have also been drawn together into a short booklet to aid consultation. The CRMP and questionnaire are now available on the Service websitewww.hwfire.org.uk/consultation to be filled in online or printed out. Feedback will also be sought on the Service’s social media sites where the hashtag #tellHWFire will be used.

Following the end of the consultation period on January 10 2014, the results will be brought back to the Fire Authority for a decision on February 19.

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 regarding changes to fire cover.

“It is only right and proper that a full consultation with a wide a range of stakeholders takes place to seek views on these proposals, which have been drawn up to limit as much as possible the impact on frontline services.

“I am encouraging everyone in our two counties to read the draft CRMP and let us know their opinions.”

On a separate note, The FRA deferred the decision for the Service to progress discussions with Warwickshire Fire and Rescue Service regarding future options for combination between the two Services.

The proposal will be considered by the Authority at its next meeting in December when a further report will be presented.