SPE­CIAL RE­PORT: Cam­bridgeshire ser­vice to cut £4.2m Pledge to pro­tect fire ser­vice’s front­line

The Peterborough Evening Telegraph - - Uk&world Update - By DAVID SEY­MOUR david.sey­mour@pe­ter­bor­oughto­day.co.uk @Et­david­sey­mour

FIRE chiefs have pledged front­line ser­vices in Cam­bridgeshire will not be af­fected by their pro­posed cuts, as long as sav­ings do not have to ex­ceed £4.2 mil­lion.

Cam­bridgeshire Fire and Res­cue Ser­vice will ap­ply next week to Cam­bridgeshire and Peter­bor­ough Fire Author­ity to ap­prove cost-sav­ing mea­sures to­talling £4.2 mil­lion in re­sponse to cuts to Gov­ern­ment fund­ing.

But the ser­vice is not con­fi­dent that this will be enough be­cause it is pos­si­ble that the Gov­ern­ment’s Spending For­mula in De­cem­ber will see its fund­ing cut by another £1.8 mil­lion.

As a re­sult it is ap­peal­ing to mem­bers to ap­prove a host of other cuts in prin­ci­ple to meet that even­tu­al­ity.

These ex­tra cuts would af­fect front­line ser­vices and the pic­ture looks grim with the lat­est Gov­ern­ment in­di­ca­tors show­ing that £5 mil­lion sav­ings would be needed.

Chris Strick­land, deputy chief fire of­fi­cer, said: “We are plan­ning for the worst case sce­nario.

“The work we have done will se­cure the ser­vice and how it is de­liv­ered if the cuts re­main at £4.2 mil­lion.

“Once it goes below that we will be forced into a po­si­tion where we have cuts to our front­line ser­vice, but we will do that in a mea­sured way that has the min­i­mum im­pact on our com­mu­ni­ties.”

To make the £4.2 mil­lion sav­ing, the ser­vice would im­ple­ment a “five watch shift sys­tem”.

Agreed by the Fire Brigades Union on Wed­nes­day, it would come at the loss of 25 whole time fire­fight­ers, al­though this would be done through nat­u­ral wastage such as not filling va­cant posts.

In ad­di­tion, there would be a loss of 35 non-op­er­a­tional posts in ar­eas like ad­min­is­tra­tion and cater­ing, as well as five of­fi­cers.

Mr Strick­land stressed that un­der these pro­pos­als, res­i­dents would re­ceive the same level of ser­vice in emer­gen­cies, even down to the num­ber of fire­fight­ers on an ap­pli­ance.

He said: “They won’t no­tice any dif­fer­ence in any­thing we have done to save £4.2 mil­lion.”

Cuts await­ing ap­proval in prin­ci­ple be­yond this would see the re­moval of two res­cue ve­hi­cles, leav­ing one left in the county.

These are cur­rently sta­tioned at Cam­bridge, Hunt­ing­don and Dogsthorpe but a de­ci­sion as to which would go, would be sub­ject to a fur­ther busi­ness re­view.

In ad­di­tion, the ser­vice is ap­ply­ing for per­mis­sion to re­move an ap­pli­ance from sta­tions at St Ives, Ram­sey and So­ham and com­bine the sta­tions at Swaffham and Bur­well if fur­ther sav­ings are needed.

A de­ci­sion on whether to close the sta­tion at Thor­ney is rec­om­mended to be de­layed un­til De­cem­ber and is not in­cluded among the first £5.5 mil­lion of sav­ings pro­posed by the ser­vice.

Mr Strick­land said the ser­vice was also con­sid­er­ing a potential merger with Suf­folk’s fire ser­vice to safe­guard the front-line long-term.

Such a step, how­ever, would form sav­ings in the next Com­pre­hen­sive Spending Re­view due in 2015.

cuts: Deputy chief fire of­fi­cer Chris Strick­land and ser­vices busi­ness change man­ager Nick Fos­ter.

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