Fire services merger only way to avoid job cuts, says Wiltshire authority chief

The Wiltshire Gazette and Herald: Graham Payne says changes are being forced by budget cuts Graham Payne says changes are being forced by budget cuts

The chairman of Wiltshire and Swindon Fire Authority Graham Payne says that if a merger between the county brigade and Dorset does not go ahead two or three fire stations in Wiltshire could lose their 24 hour status and redundancies could follow.

Coun Payne said the announcement made today that the two authorities are working towards a merger that would see a new control room at Potterne, near Devizes, serving both counties.

Coun Payne said: “I am not a fan of regionalisation but we are being forced into making changes as we have suffered severe cutbacks to our finances.

"If we were allowed to put council tax up in Wiltshire by £40 a year we would not have to be going down this road but we are capped at two per cent.

“We are a very good fit with Dorset as we are incredibly similar as counties. If the plan goes ahead for them to move their control centre to Potterne, Wiltshire would have much less of an upheaval than them.”

Wiltshire and Swindon Fire Authority has already kitted out a state of the art control centre in Potterne and expect to move from police headquarters in Devizes within the next couple of months.

Coun Payne said savings from the merger would come from needing fewer top officers and back room functions such as legal advice and administration.

He said that at the moment Wiltshire has 24 stations and Dorset 26 and are two of the smallest authorities in the country but the combined total of 50 would make them one of the biggest.

He said: “We will have much more clout nationally as we would be one of the big boys.”

Consultation is to start in the new year and a meeting for MPs from both counties will be held in London in January. MPs were only officially told of the plans yesterday.

Comments (1)

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5:49pm Fri 13 Dec 13

kimcrawley says...

Perhaps you could save money by not making senior officers redundant then re-employing them, easy peasy.
Perhaps you could save money by not making senior officers redundant then re-employing them, easy peasy. kimcrawley

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