Only one option makes sense for fire service

First published in Postbag

THE debate over the future of Wiltshire and Swindon Fire and Rescue Service rumbles on. Readers may well remember that the case for a proposed merger with Dorset Fire Service is the only option that can save the £3.9million that the coalition government is demanding.

This can be done by dispensing with a number of senior, highly-paid, uniformed officers and by combining a whole range of support services.

Any other options, such as getting Wiltshire Council to provide some “back office” functions, will save only around £700,000.

This means that the balance will have to come from closing fire stations, sacking firefighters and reducing fire cover. This would be an extremely high risk and dangerous strategy.

Yet, when Wiltshire council met last week to discuss the issue, under the bidding of Jane Scott, the Conservative leader, a majority voted not to back the merger or any other option. They put off the evil day. They deferred their decision until October 21 – after the public consultation is officially closed.

All Wiltshire inhabitants concerned about long-term fire cover and protection should actively partake in the public consultation at wiltsfire.gov.uk.

Of the three options on offer, they should strongly back the merger. It is the only one that makes sense.

Their action will demonstrate commitment and leadership; something that is currently lacking at Wiltshire County Hall on this important matter.

Jeff Osborn Independent councillor

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