East Sussex fire service council tax share 'may rise'

A fire authority is considering raising its share of the council tax by 1.94%.

The budget for East Sussex Fire and Rescue Service includes options to freeze or increase next year's council tax precept and will be considered by the fire authority in February.

The fire service's council tax share would rise from £81.86 for a Band D property to £83.45, if bills increase.

Chief fire officer Des Pritchard said the overall budget would fall from about £40m by about £7m by 2018-19.

Mr Pritchard said: "What we're doing, like all councils and fire and police authorities, is looking at the options for our budget next year, and whether or not to accept the 1% freeze grant that has been offered by government, or whether to increase council tax by just below the threshold limit."

He said the fire service was saving money by opening a joint control centre with West Sussex fire service in Haywards Heath and closing the existing centres in Eastbourne and Chichester.

IT contracts were being renegotiated and staff numbers had been reduced, he added.

"The fire authority have said they want to continue to provide a high performing fire and rescue service to meet local needs, so that's a task I've been challenged to deliver against a declining budget," he said.

Mr Pritchard said he was attempting to "remodel" the service, while continuing its fire prevention, protection and response work.

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