Cambridgeshire Fire Authority approves second round of budget cuts

CAMBRIDGESHIRE Fire Authority has today approved a second round of budget cuts which could see village fire stations closed and appliances removed.

Manea Fire Station could close, Burwell and Swaffham Fire Stations could merge and an appliance would be removed from Soham Fire Station in the ‘worst case scenario’.

A decision on how much the service’s funding will be cut by Government is due in December, but fire bosses were keen to make decisions now so they could react quickly once it finds out how much it must save.

Last year it was predicted that the service must make �4.2million of savings, but the Government’s revised spending formula now indicate that it must save about �5million.

Chris Strickland, Deputy Chief Fire Officer for CFRS said: “The fire service still does not know how much money it will have to save in 2013/14 and 2014/15 and will only find out this figure once the fire service revised funding formula is published less than four months in advance.

“This means that the Service must plan now for the ‘worst case scenario’ and be ready to implement this quickly if needed to make sure it can make the savings in time.

“Thanks to the Fire Authority’s decisions today, the Service will be able to do this.”

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The Service’s ‘worst case scenario’ involves the total level of savings that it must make rising from the �4.2million originally predicted, to closer to �6million and potentially even over this figure.

The Service had previously identified how it would make �4.3million worth of savings without impacting on frontline services.

Mr Strickland said: “The key thing to stress is that the recommendations that members of our fire authority have approved today will only be implemented if we are forced to make savings of over �4.3million.”

Fred Brown, new Chairman of Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Fire Authority, who was voted at the meeting today (24), said: “The decisions made today were difficult ones to make, but crucially they were the right decisions.

“We will continue to be aware of increased pressures on the fire service budget.”

The meeting also decided to carry out a business case to explore a full merger with Suffolk Fire Service to make larger savings in future.

Buckingham Fire and Rescue Service will also joined the Combined Fire Control at Huntingdon.