FIRE chiefs in Cheshire say communities will remain protected, despite major cuts in Government funding.
Cheshire Fire Authority told its members at a meeting on Wednesday evening they are faced with the reality of having to make £6 million in savings over the next four years, but said frontline job losses were not on the agenda.
The authority has been told it will lose nine per cent of its funding this year and a further six per cent in 2014, but has said any rise in its council tax precept to help meet the required savings will be limited to less than two per cent.
The decision follows a two year freeze on council tax and means the amount needed by the Fire Authority for a Band D home in 2013-14 will go up from £66.43 to £67.75, equivalent to an extra 2.5p a week or £1.32 year, while the figure for a Band A property will be £45.17 and range up to £135.50 for a top Band H home.
“I am pleased that despite the severe cuts in our Government funding we have been able to limit any increase to less than two per cent as we appreciate the difficult circumstances facing many of residents,” said fire authority chairman Cllr John Joyce.
“It still means making major savings from our budget over the next few years but I believe the far reaching plans we also signed off yesterday ensure we will be able to provide the first class fire and rescue service our communities deserve – and make efficiencies.
“To provide the wide range of safety and emergency response services we do for £1.30 a week for an average household represents good value for money. I’m also pleased we do not intend closing any stations, nor do we expect to make any firefighters redundant.”
Chief fire officer Paul Hancock told the meeting the proposals for the future would see the service build new fire stations and keep the same number of fire engines, with the Authority using a one-off £4.5 million capital grant from the Government to start building work on the new stations.
Mr Hancock said: “It might seem odd to be talking about new stations at a time of cutbacks, but these will help ensure our resources are where they are most needed and best reflect risk and activity levels so we can protect local communities while making the efficiencies we need.”