Public consultation to begin on proposals to save £5.5m after the government grant for Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue Service was cut.

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Proposals to save £5.5m have been agreed by members of Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue Authority.

The service’s government grant has been reduced by 10.3 per cent in 2013 and a further 7.3 per cent in 2014, which means it will lose £3.4m in the next financial year and a further £2.1m in the following year.

Councillor Mark Healey, Chairman of the Devon & Somerset Fire & Rescue Authority, said “The chief fire officer and I have lobbied Government and will continue to do so to ensure we get a better Grant settlement next time. In addition, we have specifically asked for a meeting with the Minister to outline our concerns.

“We will now be keen to listen to staff and the public but whatever the outcome of the consultation, we still will need to save £5.5m. Closing fire stations is not where we want to be.”

Chief Fire Officer Lee Howell added: “These are difficult times and difficult decisions need to be made. The proposals that have been agreed for public consultation do not require closure of fire stations, removal of fire engines or compulsory redundancies.

““We aim to maintain or improve public safety by changing the way we do business and by crewing some fire engines differently but like many other public and private organisations, we do have to operate with less money.”

The consultation period will start on January 28 and will run until April 22.

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