Cost-saving proposals could see Wisbech fire station down graded but March given a boost

DEPUTY chief fire officer Chris Strickland has outlined cost saving proposals that could lead to Wisbech fire station being down graded and a review carried out of most of the county’s fire service provision.

The possible changes also include merging two full time stations in Peterborough but there could be good news for March which may emerge with an enhanced role.

March could switch from retained status to having a day crew deployed there with retained status at night- the same as Wisbech would have under the proposals.

The costs saving ideas have been sent to all fire authority members and could affect the way the service operate across the whole of Cambridgeshire.

Many controversial proposals are included in his report to next Thursday’s fire authority meeting including a review of all pumps attending less than 120 calls a year, merging two full time stations in Peterborough, and possibly making Huntingdon a day time only fire station.

Mr Strickland wants the go ahead from members for a feasibility study of all options in a bid to make over �4 million worth of savings in the next four years to cope with reduced funding from central Government.

With Government cut backs now beginning to filter through, Mr Strickland believes the Cambs fire authority needs to be in a position to tackle the cuts.

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He will tell his fire authority that the estimated level of cuts are subject to “critical assumptions” such as continued freezing of council tax, no pay awards for staff in 2012/13, inflation running at around 2 per cent, and no “significant change” in the distribution of Government grants.

He says in his report: “Should any of the identified assumptions prove to be incorrect, the service’s financial predictions will need to be updated and the cuts programme modified accordingly”.

He said the four year programme of cuts he envisages will ensure they are “able to transform services rather than being forced to ‘salami slice’ or cut out parts of its structure in haste and without due consideration.”

The fire service has held a series of meetings and roads shows in recent months with staff and he says over 700 suggestions were put forward to save costs. These have been streamlined into suggested feasibility studies and reviews.

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