Isle of Wight Council cabinet members tonight (Thursday) approved plans to create a combined fire authority (CFA) for the Isle of Wight, Hampshire, Portsmouth and Southampton.
Combining the authority will cost £700,000, to be taken from the transformation budget. A potential council tax increase of £3.74 could fund the service.
Outlaw: 11 IW voices on the board
Cabinet member for public protection, Cllr Tig Outlaw, said the council was also applying for funding from the Home Office.
Cllr Outlaw, said:
“I am delighted to say this is very important to the fire and rescue service.
“The plans will see the service have resilience in the long run and will bring us many benefits. We will benefit from the experience and knowledge of Hampshire.
“Concerns have been raised about the voice the Island will have, but there will be 11 voices on the board looking out for what is in the best interests of the service.”
£5 million investment
The plans could see £5 million in investment over the next five years.
Visiting from Hampshire, Cllr Chris Carter, also praised Islander Steve Apter, who has been appointed the new deputy fire chief officer for Hampshire.
IW Council leader, Cllr Dave Stewart, said:
“I think we have made a good decision today and I look forward to the progression of it.”
One-off implementation costs
A report into the issue said it would create a ‘stronger and safer’ service.
Regarding the costs, it said:
“Although implementation costs are incurred, they are one off and lead to the significant benefits that can be gained from the creation of a new CFA as set out in this report.
“The business case approved by both authorities included the transfer of reserves and balances from the Isle of Wight Council to the new combined fire authority of nearly £700,000, which could be used to offset these costs.
“A bid for transitional funding will also be made to the Home Office although there is no guarantee that this will be successful.”
Transfer of property and vehicles would relieve the council of maintenance and replacement liabilities. Repair and maintenance of buildings would also transfer to the new authority.
FBU: Reluctant support
Speaking ahead of the meeting, Spence Cave, from the Fire Brigades Union, said:
“We reluctantly support the CFA because it’s the only method available to us for protecting firefighter posts, and fire stations.
“Buildings and facilities are in a poor state after years of financial neglect.”
This article is from the BBC’s LDRS (Local Democracy Reporter Service) scheme, which OnTheWight is taking part in. Some alterations and additions may be been made by OnTheWight. Ed