Fire services prepare alliance to fight cuts
An alliance between Shropshire Fire and Rescue Service and its colleagues in Hereford and Worcester is essential to ensure the service is "sustainable long into the next decade", it has been claimed.
Rod Hammerton, Shorpsihre's chief fire officer, said closer links between his authority and Hereford & Worcester Fire and Rescue Service would help meet "increasing pressures of budgetary restriction".
He made the claim in a report that will go to Shropshire Fire and Rescue Authority’s strategy and resources committee on Tuesday.
Members will be asked to approve the creation of an alliance plan at the meeting.
The plan contains 24 actions, including reviewing safeguarding processes, reviewing community safety provisions, reviewing and aligning senior leadership teams, and plans to reinvest savings.
In his report, Mr Hammerton says: "The proposal extends the existing collaboration arrangements into a more planned and structured formal alliance which will deliver real benefits in terms of aligning processes and procedures, and sharing resources, experience and expertise.
"It would also provide both services with the capacity and resilience to remain sustainable long into the next decade."
Officers from both services have been working together to create the plan over the last few months.
The plan aims to ensure "long-term capacity and resilience to meet the increasing pressures of budgetary restrictions and changing demands, while sustaining first-class fire and rescue services for the communities of the three counties".
The report concludes: "The creation of a formal strategic alliance and governance framework is a major step towards collective resilience, capacity and sustainability to effectively meet ongoing financial challenges, while also seizing the opportunity to deliver key joint priorities over the next three to five years and provide additional value to our local communities."
Shropshire's fire authority approved investigations into how the two fire services could work together in March in the wake of major cuts in Government funding.
The plan, which extends to 2022, had been due to go before the full Shropshire Fire Authority in June but was postponed to allow more time to develop the proposals.
Both services already work closely with each other, including joint working of its control rooms, and with West Mercia Police, which has led to community support officers being trained as retained firefighters.
West Mercia’s Police and Crime Commissioner has criticised details of the alliance.
John Campion said he believed the aspirations by Shropshire, and Hereford and Worcester fire services to work more closely together were “not far reaching enough”.
He was also critical at the lack of plans to work closer with West Mercia Police.
Once the strategic alliance plan is confirmed, the next step will be to set up a governance framework and prepare a plan to carry out actions in the alliance plan.