Chance to vote on fire merger plans - and possible huge cuts

Chance to vote on fire merger plans - and possible huge cuts

Chance to vote on fire merger plans - and possible huge cuts

First published in Headlines Salisbury Journal: Photograph of the Author by

PEOPLE are being asked to vote on plans that could mean huge cuts in Wiltshire’s fire service.

The fire chiefs of Wiltshire and Dorset, both with big budget shortfalls looming, recently produced a blueprint for combining their forces, believing it is the only way they can save the necessary millions through economies  of scale without axing jobs and frontline services.

But Wiltshire councillors on the county fire authority want the public to also consider two other options which involve the services remaining separate and working more closely with councils and other emergency services.

Their consultation document admits that these would achieve relatively small savings and are likely to mean more job losses and slower response times.

Disagreement within Tory ranks over the issue led to the ousting of the fire authority chairman, Cllr Graham Payne, who favoured a merger. He has been replaced by Cllr Chris Devine, from Winterslow.

Dorset residents will be asked the same questions but the online consultation portal for them sets out a business case for the merger which the Wiltshire authority has chosen not to include.

Simon Routh-Jones, Wiltshire’s chief fire officer, said: “We are consulting widely on this important issue and we would encourage any views as no decisions have yet been made.”

To take part go to www.wiltsfire.gov.uk/strengtheningourfrs.

Paper copies of the questionnaire are also available at libraries and council offices, and a random selection of 12,000 households across the two counties will receive them directly in the post.

Wiltshire residents who want to read the business case for the merger should go to www.dorsetfrsconsultation.citizenspace.com/  and click on the link ‘Strengthening our fire and rescue service in Dorset’.

The consultation runs until October 20, after which the fire authorities will make a decision on what to do next.

A call for Wiltshire councillors to support the proposed merger of the county’s fire service with Dorset’s will be made tomorrow (Tuesday).

Independent councillors Terry Chivers and Jeff Osborn will put the motion to a full council meeting at Trowbridge.

 

Comments (6)

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10:07pm Mon 28 Jul 14

Grampie says...

The questionnaire did not ask if we agreed with cuts in finance by both the Conservative led Government and Conservative Council.

We now have a fire service worse than 50 years ago and the poor workers have to plod on until they are 60 in order to get a full pension.

I would not like to have to run around carrying ladders or wearing breathing apparatus when I was in my fifties. My bits had started to wear out when I was in my forties.

In addition, they have to pay more for their pensions and pay rises are below inflation.

What a way to treat people who serve our community and put their lives at risk
The questionnaire did not ask if we agreed with cuts in finance by both the Conservative led Government and Conservative Council. We now have a fire service worse than 50 years ago and the poor workers have to plod on until they are 60 in order to get a full pension. I would not like to have to run around carrying ladders or wearing breathing apparatus when I was in my fifties. My bits had started to wear out when I was in my forties. In addition, they have to pay more for their pensions and pay rises are below inflation. What a way to treat people who serve our community and put their lives at risk Grampie
  • Score: -1

11:52pm Mon 28 Jul 14

karlmarx says...

Couldn't find anything at all from the actual frontline fire service personnel so found it extremely difficult to make a decision on safety based purely on financial accounts.
Couldn't find anything at all from the actual frontline fire service personnel so found it extremely difficult to make a decision on safety based purely on financial accounts. karlmarx
  • Score: 1

12:03am Tue 29 Jul 14

Grampie says...

£3 Million per annum in cuts is loss of jobs, loss of experience, loss of opportunity.

I have been told by senior firefighters that there are fewer people on duty and fewer fire engines in Salisbury than when the fire station first opened 50 years ago.

Luckily they do not get as many fires as they used to due to building regulations and people are more aware of the dangers of fire,, but sooner or later when one of the old buildings in the city goes up, will they have enough full time and part time staff to deal with it?
£3 Million per annum in cuts is loss of jobs, loss of experience, loss of opportunity. I have been told by senior firefighters that there are fewer people on duty and fewer fire engines in Salisbury than when the fire station first opened 50 years ago. Luckily they do not get as many fires as they used to due to building regulations and people are more aware of the dangers of fire,, but sooner or later when one of the old buildings in the city goes up, will they have enough full time and part time staff to deal with it? Grampie
  • Score: 2

12:23am Tue 29 Jul 14

karlmarx says...

For sure the sterling work that the fire service put into the prevention of fires and accidents has made a huge reduction in the number of incidents they have to attend. This part of their work didn't receive any acknowledgement in any of the three reports which is a shame really because this has to be the most cost effective way of running the service, prevention rather than cure.
For sure the sterling work that the fire service put into the prevention of fires and accidents has made a huge reduction in the number of incidents they have to attend. This part of their work didn't receive any acknowledgement in any of the three reports which is a shame really because this has to be the most cost effective way of running the service, prevention rather than cure. karlmarx
  • Score: 3

11:23am Tue 29 Jul 14

journalist1 says...

karlmarx wrote:
Couldn't find anything at all from the actual frontline fire service personnel so found it extremely difficult to make a decision on safety based purely on financial accounts.
That's because they aren't allowed to give their opinion.
If you want to make a decision on safety grounds ask yourself which of these options leaves more firefighters in their jobs. It makes it clearer if you read the Dorset consultation on the same web portal, which has more information. The fire chiefs have both said previously that a merger is the only way to avoid big cuts in staff and fire stations. But that doesn't suit Wiltshire Council. See Annie Riddle column in this Thursday's paper.
[quote][p][bold]karlmarx[/bold] wrote: Couldn't find anything at all from the actual frontline fire service personnel so found it extremely difficult to make a decision on safety based purely on financial accounts.[/p][/quote]That's because they aren't allowed to give their opinion. If you want to make a decision on safety grounds ask yourself which of these options leaves more firefighters in their jobs. It makes it clearer if you read the Dorset consultation on the same web portal, which has more information. The fire chiefs have both said previously that a merger is the only way to avoid big cuts in staff and fire stations. But that doesn't suit Wiltshire Council. See Annie Riddle column in this Thursday's paper. journalist1
  • Score: 0

6:52am Wed 30 Jul 14

karlmarx says...

"they aren't allowed to give their opinion"

Which is a shame really as they are the ones who know and, it is they who will be affected as well as the public.
Given a vote I would be much happier in paying more in council tax to the fire and rescue service instead of council leaders massive pay and expenses hikes, wouldn't you?
What is more important, saving lives or greedy councillors?
"they aren't allowed to give their opinion" Which is a shame really as they are the ones who know and, it is they who will be affected as well as the public. Given a vote I would be much happier in paying more in council tax to the fire and rescue service instead of council leaders massive pay and expenses hikes, wouldn't you? What is more important, saving lives or greedy councillors? karlmarx
  • Score: -2

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