East and West Sussex fire services consider merger

Fire and rescue services in East and West Sussex could be merged under plans being considered by both authorities.

They said the move could deliver significant savings and help preserve front-line services in light of government spending cuts.

They also hope closer links will reduce management and back office costs.

A final business case will be considered by both authorities in June and if approved the plans will then go out to public consultation.

'Significant reductions'

At recent meetings held by both authorities, it was agreed that the options being considered should be narrowed down to two - formal collaboration between the two services or a full-scale merger to create a new fire authority covering West Sussex, East Sussex and the City of Brighton and Hove.

West Sussex County Council said it needed to save another £2.5m by 2013-14 from the fire and rescue service, and a merger would go towards helping it to achieve the target.

A spokesman for East Sussex Fire and Rescue added that all fire services had been advised by the government to expect "significantly bigger reductions" in their grants in 2013-14 and 2014-15 than those announced for the previous two years.

He said the latest budget approved by East Sussex Fire Authority was "the result of many months' work to try to reduce the expected impact of these grant reductions - both to the services we provide to local people and to our staff - as far as it has been possible to do so".

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