Following a consultation about its plans for the year ahead, members of the Cheshire Fire Authority have agreed to increase the service's Council Tax precept by 1.99%. This means that the charge for a Band D home will be £73.29 – an increase of just £1.43 a year.
At a meeting on Tuesday, 14th February, members of the authority officially considered all of the feedback received and agreed a number of changes to the draft Integrated Risk Management Plan (IRMP) for 2017/18, which includes a breakdown of how they propose to meet the estimated £3.8 million savings required up to 2021.
Plans for the coming year include undertaking a further review of the suitability and sustainability of the current duty system at Wilmslow Fire Station. However, when launching the consultation on the draft Integrated Risk Management Plan in October 2016, the authority insisted that they are committed to not making any redundancies.
Chair of Cheshire Fire Authority, Cllr Bob Rudd, said: "We're grateful to everyone who took the time to respond to our consultation we have considered all of the feedback received and are now preparing to implement our updated IRMP from April 1st. Like many other public services, we are facing some challenging times ahead but we believe our plan maintains a strong focus on both the safety of our communities and our firefighters."
The IRMP for 2017/18 will also involve the implementation of the following projects:
• Redeveloping a new operational training centre at the Service's current Winsford Headquarters site.
• Introducing a new policy setting out the response to Automatic Fire Alarms.
• Work to expand the current Cardiac Response pilot to all fire stations in partnership with the North West Ambulance Service.
• Continue to campaign to ensure that requirements for sprinkler systems in schools remains in place.
• Review staffing arrangements at Macclesfield and Birchwood Fire Stations.
The following proposals have now been revised following the feedback received during the consultation:
• The draft plan proposed a reduction from three to two hydraulic platforms with the removal of the one at Macclesfield. The decision has now been made to retain the Macclesfield appliance until the Service assesses fully the move of the one of the other hydraulic platform to the new fire station in Lymm.
• The proposed review of the duty system at Penketh Fire Station will now take place in 2018/19.
• Plans to change the duty system on the second fire engines at Crewe and Ellesmere Port that were originally agreed by the Authority in 2013 will now be subjected to a review the outcomes of which will be considered by Members.
Chief Fire Officer, Paul Hancock, added: "I would like to echo the Chair's comments in thanking people for sharing their views on our plans for the future. It was particularly great to see that 99 per cent of the public value us and 92 per cent are satisfied with our performance. We have a lot of work still to do as there are some big challenges ahead but our commitment to protecting local communities, reducing risk and maintaining firefighters' safety is paramount."
The version of the IRMP approved by the Authority is available to view on the Cheshire Fire and Rescue Service website together with the report on the outcome of 13-week consultation.