Following yesterday’s news that Hampshire could own all of the Island’s fire stations and land if the council agree to a combined Fire Authority, this news below comes from a Hampshire reporter. Ed
Isle of Wight fire bases are to get £3 million upgrades as part of plans for a combined authority.
The 11 stations on the Island will be brought inline with mainland standards, if the proposals to merge the two Fire Authories get the go-ahead.
Fire bosses say the “old and poor” state of the stations will require £3 million-worth of work over the next three to five years, with £1.6 million of this urgently needed in the next two.
Improvements will include modernising the bases, which may include new tech.
Hampshire civic chiefs agreed to push forward with a 12-week public consultation, a decision that was put to Island leaders.
If approved, results will be published in November.
Stewart: Confirmed authority would back proposals
Speaking at a meeting of the Hampshire Fire and Rescue Authority in Winchester, councillor Christopher Carter said he had spoken to Leader of the Isle of Wight council, Cllr Dave Stewart, who confirmed the authority would back the proposals.
Currently, the mainland service is made up of crews from Hampshire, Southampton and Portsmouth.
But taking over the Island’s the combined authority would need to find an extra £460,000 a year to “properly maintain” the service.
Increase in council tax
Around £200,000 of this will be funded by a Band D tax increase of £3.74 per year, which will only be billed to Islanders.
Rob Carr, chief financial officer at Hampshire County Council, says this is to bring the Isle of Wight’s precept charge in line with Hampshire – £65.74.
Other cash, fire bosses say, will be gained from combining assets, which will reduce unnecessary spending.
Chief fire officer Neil Odin is confident that combining the services will be good for the authority.
“We have already gained a great deal of insight from the way the Isle of Wight (fire officers) deals with things.
“On the mainland we have a lot of support from all around us, but the Island force has learnt to be self sufficient. They have learnt a lot of different skills (that we have not).”
Hampshire crews helping on the Island
Currently, Hampshire fire officers are only deployed to the Island in an emergency, but under the new plans, this would be changed to allow them to help in less critical circumstances.
As reported, advantages of a new combined authority include aligning safety campaigns and increasing operational capacity.
The new team would be made up of members from all relevant councils, who would make decisions on all fire related matters.
This article is from the BBC’s LDRS (Local Democracy Reporter Service) scheme, which OnTheWight is taking part in. Some additions by OnTheWight. Ed