Fire merger delayed

PLANS for a possible merger between West and East Sussex Fire Rescue Service have been delayed.

West Sussex County Council has agreed to wait for Whitehall to give more detail on how the combined service would be funded.

Both the fire authority and the county council had expected a business case would be completed in time for a final decision to be made at their respective meetings in December.

But the case, investigated by the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) continues to identify how joint savings of up to £3.8m per year can be achieved to meet the previously expected government grant reductions without any detriment to local community services.

Councillor Pete Bradbury, West Sussex County Council cabinet member for public protection, said: “A key element of the business case concerned the financial implications of merging, in particular how future funding for all Fire and Rescue Services from government grants would impact on council tax and how it would deliver financial sustainability for the newly merged Service.

“At a recent meeting with DCLG officials it became clear that some key financial information would not be available until the outcomes of a national review of local government financing currently being undertaken are announced by the Government.”

He added: “Without the information from DCLG on grant and council tax implications we cannot be certain these will turn into cashable savings, not can we be clear about the effects on council tax for residents across Sussex.”