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Emergency services hit by rocketing fuel prices
THEY are out every day putting out fires, saving lives and rushing to the scenes of crime.
But with the price of petrol reaching £6 a gallon, our emergency services are counting the cost of rocketing fuel prices.
As part of the Daily Echo’s Don’t be a Fuel Fool campaign – turning the spotlight on how the petrol price hikes are affecting people in Hampshire – we reveal how fuel costs are hitting lifesaving organisations all over the region.
Hampshire police say they will have spent £2.25m on petrol and diesel for their fleet of vehicles in this financial year, and have put aside an extra £320,000 for the next.
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They say they are trying to find more ways to cut down on the number of miles their officers drive.
As reported by the Daily Echo, force chiefs have even considered cutting patrols on Hampshire’s motorways to save money, angering their own police officers, who regard them as vital for road safety and the fight against crime.
A spokesman said: “Our budget for fuel in the next financial year is £2.57m. We probably won’t spend all of that, but as prices continue to rocket, we can’t rule it out.
“It has placed a strain on the budget, especially given the volatile nature of fuel prices.
“All of our officers, where they can, get the cheapest fuel available – we’ve got a company that informs us where the petrol stations are in each area with the lowest prices.
“We’ve also invested in mobile data terminals, where you can log in and get exactly the same desktop as your office computer, so if officers have got ten jobs in a day to go to, they don’t have to keep coming back to the station to fill in paperwork.”
Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service also says it is feeling the effect of the fuel price hike, but its response to incidents is |unaffected.
Assistant Chief Officer Kevin Butcher said: “We continue to make efficiency savings and are keen to limit non-essential travel by making the best use of technology – for example, the service uses video-conferencing facilities whenever possible, rather than travelling to meetings.”
But charities that also run vital lifesaving services say they are finding their rising costs difficult to cope with.
Solent Rescue, an independent lifeboat based at Lepe Country Park, in Exbury, is responsible for around 33 square miles of the central and western Solent.
Coxswain number one, Cameron Critchfield, said: “We’re a small charity and we have minimal funds.
“The police and fire service are funded by Government, so they’re protected from the price rises to some degree, but we’re not buffered from it.
“We have lost four crew members in the last year because they can’t afford to give up work on Saturdays and Sundays – the fuel hike is an extra kick.
“At the moment, we patrol on bank holidays, |weekends and during Cowes Week but we’ll be more reactive than proactive if costs continue to rise.
“We’ll continue to operate but simply won’t be able to patrol as much.”