Fire merger could bring complications

CLLR Peter Edge has neglected to declare his interest in the Wiltshire/Dorset Fire merger (Journal, July 3).

He was, until very recently, a member of the fire authority and has met with the Deputy Chief Fire Officer to press for locating the new joint HQ in Wilton on the Community Land Trust site, of which he is a member.

I am a member of the Wiltshire & Swindon Fire Authority. A huge amount of work has been put into the proposed merger, but not so much into looking at alternatives.

Wiltshire Council has no desire to empire-build as your headline implies, but would it not be sensible to look in greater detail to see whether there are more functions that could be provided by Wiltshire Council and Swindon Borough Council on behalf of the fire service (as has happened with the police), and not just back-office functions?

I do not know if the public cares whether the two fire services combine, and will be very interested in the responses to the consultation.

But consider this; if the proposal to put all blue light services, including the fire service, under the Police and Crime Commissioner comes about, how will this be managed across the two counties when we have two PCCs, one Conservative, one Independent?

The fire services are keen to rush this through before the general election, fearing that this would delay the merger. Shouldn't we step back a bit, just consider the ramifications and put more work in to see where other savings and joint working can keep the fire service as a Wiltshire service?

Annie Riddle (Journal Opinion) often moans about Trowbridge being remote from Salisbury, conveniently forgetting that prior to the unitary council, the county council, with responsibilities for roads, social services, schools, ie the major spending budgets, was based in our county town of Trowbridge with elected representatives from the south of Wiltshire. If the two fire services merge will Mrs Riddle start to criticise that for being too remote?

If it is apparent that the merger is the best option, then I will support it, but I want to see genuine work done to explore the alternatives in order to make proper considered comparisons.

Cllr Bridget Wayman

Wiltshire councillor, Nadder & East Knoyle

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