Fire services will not merge

WEST AND EAST Sussex Fire and Rescue Services will not merge in April 2013, it has been announced today (Thursday February 2).

West Sussex County Council and East Sussex Fire Authority say the ‘merger remains the desired way forward if government funding and financial issues can be resolved’.

The two authorities have also pledged to continue working more closely together to deliver savings and efficiencies, whilst seeking to build a more resilient service across Sussex and Brighton and Hove.

Both authorities have made clear that their work on creating a new joint control room is still going ahead.

The desired location is along the A23 corridor.

Councillor Pete Bradbury, West Sussex County Council’s Cabinet Member for Public Protection, said: “Since the Local Government Resources Review (LGRR) was announced both Services have been seeking confirmation from the DCLG on what this would mean for redistribution of grants for a merged Service, what potential risks this might create for our local funding and, ultimately, whether council tax for the merged Service could still be equalised across the whole of the area.

“The DCLG have now told us it is not possible to provide that level of detail at the current time due to the ongoing work of the LGRR and the Finance Bill.

“The Department did agree, however, to look to see whether and when it would be possible for them to give the necessary assurances in the future.

“It is frustrating that the timing of the governments resource review creates this problem, but both West Sussex County Council and East Sussex Fire Authority understand and accept the DCLGs position, and have now agreed it is not possible to merge in 2013.”