Sussex fire merger proposal decision delayed

Fire engine
Image caption Government approval would be needed for a merger

A decision on the proposed merger of fire and rescue services in East and West Sussex has been delayed.

East Sussex Fire Authority and West Sussex County Council said they wanted more information from the Department for Communities and Local Government.

They said details of the financial implications would not be completed in time for a decision next month.

The proposal is to create a new fire authority covering East Sussex, West Sussex and Brighton and Hove.

The authorities said they had been hoping a business case would be completed in time for a final decision on the proposed merger to be taken at their meetings in December.

Councillor Pete Bradbury, of West Sussex County Council, which runs fire services in West Sussex, said a key element concerned the future funding for all fire and rescue services from government grants.

'Cashable savings'

"At a recent meeting with DCLG officials it became clear that some key financial information would not be available until the outcomes of a national review of local government financing currently being undertaken are announced by the government," he said.

"Without the information... we cannot be certain these will turn into cashable savings, nor can we be clear about the effects on council tax for residents across Sussex."

Councillor John Livings, chairman of East Sussex Fire Authority, said the situation would be reviewed when further information was available and when both authorities had considered the outcome of the government review.

A merger would be subject to government approval.

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