A 12-week consultation into creating a new combined fire authority for the Island and Hampshire has been given the go ahead.
The Isle of Wight Council’s Cabinet has accepted a detailed business case for a combined authority and approved a full consultation on the plans.
The consultation will seek the views of key stakeholders, including unions, town and parish councils and the Isle of Wight public.
Starting in the summer
It will get underway this summer – with a similar process in Hampshire – and there will be a report due back on the findings in the autumn.
The new body, if approved, will bring together the governance of the Island’s fire authority – which is currently the council – and the Hampshire Fire Authority, which includes the Portsmouth and Southampton areas.
Following the consultation and Full Council consideration, the proposal for a combined authority will go before Cabinet to approve. The final decision will rest with the secretary of state.
Outlaw: Achieving what is best for our Island community
Cabinet member for public protection, Cllr Tig Outlaw, said:
“Our plan is to now get underway with the consultation as soon as is practical – and we will publicise full details of how people can contribute their views.
“This is the next stage as we and Hampshire look at the case to combine the overall governance of our two authorities. It is important to note that no change to the current operations of our fire and rescue service is envisaged in the detailed business case.
“This is all about achieving what is best for our Island community, ensuring the future resilience of the service and the safety of our residents.
“For the last few years we have had a strategic partnership agreement with Hampshire – which has given improved capacity, shared expertise and significant career development opportunities for our firefighters and officers. That agreement comes to an end in 2020 and the proposed combined authority is the next potential step.
“This detailed business case has explored the risks and benefits of a new combined authority, with public safety paramount alongside a focus on efficiency, effectiveness and economic factors.
“It indicates a combined authority would enhance capacity and improve levels of service, including in key preventative areas such as community and business safety initiatives. This consultation will give our community the opportunity to give us their views on this important matter.”
• A combined authority would provide increased capacity and resilience for the Island through shared resources in areas such as maritime response, extrication and trauma, hazardous materials, and terrorism incidents.
• A combined authority would also give the Island access to Hampshire’s wide range of community initiatives.
• The Island’s fire authority serves a population of 140,000 (Hampshire 1.83 million).
• The Island has 69,600 domestic properties (Hampshire 754,000), and 6,630 non-domestic properties (Hampshire 51,500).
• The Island’s fire and rescue service has ten fire stations (Hampshire 51), 13 fire appliances (Hampshire 78), 76 wholetime firefighters (Hampshire 679), 86 on-call firefighters (Hampshire 496), and 19 corporate staff (Hampshire 256). The existing combined fire control has 31 personnel.
• In 2017/18 the Island’s fire service attended 1,349 incidents (Hampshire 20,299), including 306 fires (Hampshire 3,891).
• It is envisaged the Isle of Wight Council would have one representative on a new combined fire authority, alongside representatives from Hampshire County Council, and Southampton and Portsmouth city councils.
• While the Isle of Wight Council is the Island’s fire authority and responsible for the local fire and rescue service, in Hampshire the fire and rescue service is separate from direct local authority control, although council representatives sit on the governing fire authority.
News shared by Isle of Wight council, in their own words. Ed