Fire authority increases precept

PUBLISHED: 09:40 19 February 2013 | UPDATED: 09:40 19 February 2013

Archant

Bills to rise by an average of £1.47 over the next financial year.

Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue Authority is to increase its share of council the council tax bill by 1.99 per cent.

The average Band D household will pay £75.39 during the next financial year, an increase of £1.47.

The authority says it has received the third worst grant settlement nationally from the Government.

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

The authority has pledged to continue to lobby the Government for a fairer grant settlement in future years.

Cllr Mark Healey, chairman of the authority, said: “We have the highest number of fire stations and fire engines in the country outside London but receive far less funding than many other authorities.

“The rural nature of a large part of our region has to be taken into account and we will be asking the Government to look at this issue as a matter of urgency.”

A public consultation exercise showed that 50 per cent of the public surveyed agreed it was reasonable for the authority to raise its council tax, and 26 per cent disagreed.

Chief fire officer Lee Howell said: “More than 80 per cent of people said that the service provides good value for money and are satisfied with the service we provide. That is testament to the dedication of our staff.”

The council tax increase of less than two per cent means that the authority will avoid the requirement to hold a public referendum, which would have cost the authority an estimated £2.3 million.

However, the authority will still have to manage the Service with approximately £5.5m less each year.

Proposals showing how the authority intends to make the required savings while maintaining public safety are currently under consultation. More information on the proposals is on the website at www.dsfire.gov.uk/consultation


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