Wednesday 17 July 2024
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Nottingham

West Bridgford fire cuts not ruled out despite £2.6m uplift in funding

Nottinghamshire Fire and Rescue Service has refused to rule out proposed cuts despite an uplift in funding announced this week.

The service has outlined plans which could see West Bridgford Fire Station having no crew on duty at all at night, and both London Road and Stockhill stations losing one fire engine each, to save money.

Some Rushcliffe residents and councillors said these cuts were a “tragedy waiting to happen” as response times would rise by around 43 seconds at a station already significantly above the service’s eight-minute target.

In Ashfield, the fire service plans the return of 24-hour cover at the Kirkby-in-Ashfield station.

A public consultation on the proposed cuts closes today (December 23).

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On December 19, the 2023/24 Local Government Settlement was announced, which included an increase in funding for the fire service in Nottinghamshire.

Figures show that the Authority will have an increase in Core Spending Power of up to £2.62m, which equates to a roughly 5.7 per cent increase.

NFRS held £10.7m in reserves as of March 2021.

Assistant Chief Fire Officer Candida Brudenell said the funding was some “well-needed positive news for the service” but added that a long-term strategy is needed to “make the level of savings needed in the coming years”.

 

The service is looking at a £6m deficit over the next six years and the first plans, intending to save £2m, are currently out to public consultation.

Leader of Nottinghamshire County Council, Cllr Ben Bradley MP said he has been working with local councillors and his parliamentary colleagues in Nottinghamshire to lobby for an increase in funding.

He said: “I am very pleased that our work over the last few months has paid off, and thank the Fire Minister Chris Philp MP for engaging with us and supporting us with this increase.

“The Labour-led Fire Authority had proposed some unhelpful changes, and while it is clear that they need to accelerate their efficiencies programme to save money as other authorities have done, our services should not suffer in the meantime.

“This additional funding will help protect our frontline services.

“I know our councillors will be pushing for this and hopefully the Labour leadership at the Fire Authority support this.”

Candida Brudenell encouraged residents to take part in public consultation.

She said: “Over the last 12 weeks, we have been out to public consultation on proposed changes to fire engines in Nottinghamshire.

“Legally we have to set a balanced budget. The current proposal was independently assessed, following a risk analysis across the city and county.

“It was taken to the Nottinghamshire and City of Nottingham Combined Fire Authority by the Chief Fire Officer in September, where members voted to go to public consultation.

“This funding brings some well-needed positive news for the service.

“However, a long-term strategy is still required to make the level of savings needed in the coming years, so that further problems aren’t created.”

In 2009/10, the fire service’s budget was just over £46m.

In 2023/24 the service is expected to have a spending power of as much as £48.6m – but the service says it is also facing soaring inflation and pay awards.

The budget and outcome of the consultation will be discussed in February’s Full Fire Authority meeting.

If approved after the public consultation, the changes will go ahead from April 2023.

Leader of the Conservative Group on the Nottinghamshire and City of Nottingham Fire Authority, Cllr Jonathan Wheeler (Con), said: “We have been proactively working with our MP colleagues to ask the Government for more funding rather than grandstanding or putting together misleading petitions.

  •  Rushcliffe MP speaks in Parliament against changes to West Bridgford’s fire cover

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