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Fire service in £12m cash crisis - but vow no stations will close
6:00am Sunday 1st June 2014 in News
HAMPSHIRE fire bosses have vowed not to close any more fire stations despite needing to fill a multi-million-pound black hole.
Firefighters’ jobs, fire stations and fire engines have all been at risk of being scaled back since cuts in government funding revealed a £12m shortfall.
But yesterday, fire chiefs promised stations would not face the axe as part of a radical root and branch review that will see some of the biggest cuts Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service has ever faced.
Hampshire County Councillor Keith Chapman said there were “no plans to cut or close any fire stations whatsoever”.
He added: “Because more of the smaller stations are maintained by a retained fire fighting service, as far as members are concerned, there’s no plans to even think about removing any fire station.”
Speaking on behalf of the chairman of the Hampshire Fire Authority boss Cllr Royston Smith, he revealed that the review would likely take around 18 months.
It comes as the Government forecast slashes to their grant by £9.9 million by 2017, which has opened up a huge hole of £12 million in the budget.
More than £7 million can be saved by a range of measures already under way, including merging back office functions with Hampshire police and the county council.
But with £5 million of savings still needed, bosses are considering making huge savings from its fire service operations.
A consultation will be carried out in the autumn, with the cuts coming next year.
Previously union leaders have warned that public and crew safety could be put at risk by cuts.
Peter Bates, of Hampshire Fire Brigade Union, which represents about 700 staff in the county, said: “We have made efficiency savings and fire stations are running on minimal levels of crew and we would be concerned if those levels reduced.”
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