Fire service merger will not go ahead
The proposed merger of Suffolk and Cambridgeshire Fire and Rescue Services will not proceed. However both services have said they remain committed to exploring opportunities for closer working to save money.
Cllr Colin Spence, cabinet member for public protection, said: “It was important that we fully explored a potential merger to see how we might be able to build on the existing relationship between the two authorities. However, I was clear from the outset that we would only continue with plans for a full merger at this time if it was the right thing to do for the people of Suffolk.”
A number of issues were identified as the two services completed a business case for the proposed merger.
These included, a government announcement that Cambridgeshire Fire and Rescue Service would be able to raise their council tax precept this year. The approved increase of £5 means Cambridgeshire residents living in a band D property will be paying £11 more than those in Suffolk.
The Department for Communities and Local Government were unable to provide assurances they would give the support needed to complete the merger by April 2015.
There is a considerable difference between the level of reserves held by each service.
The results of a public consultation were inconclusive with 49 per cent of respondents being in favour and 41 per cent against and the expected efficiency savings of a merger would not be as significant as first thought.
Andy Fry, Suffolk’s chief fire officer, said: “We have made significant savings through merging our control rooms and we will continue to try and identify further options to work to together and share resources. I would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone connected with Suffolk Fire and Rescue Service for their ongoing commitment and dedication to protecting the people of Suffolk.”
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Weather for Bury St Edmunds
Thursday 23 May 2013
Temperature: 4 C to 9 C
Wind Speed: 20 mph
Wind direction: North west
Temperature: 5 C to 10 C
Wind Speed: 20 mph
Wind direction: North east