East and West Sussex fire merger could save jobs

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FRONT-LINE jobs will be lost if East and West fire services do not merge.

That was the message given at a meeting of the Adur County committee meeting held at the Sir Robert Woodard Academy, in Upper Boundstone Lane, Sompting, earlier this month.

The planned merger, which it is hoped will make an overall saving of £3.8million, will see a “streamlining” of the two forces to create one unified Sussex Fire and Rescue service.

Bill Minton, business planning manager for West Sussex Fire and Rescue Service, said it would mean better resilience against large-scale incidents such as flooding or terrorist attacks, and warned if the merger did not go ahead, the consequences would be “devastating”.

“If we do not merge, West Sussex Fire and Rescue Service alone will have to find savings of £2.5million, meaning reductions in all areas of the service, including front-line services,” he said.

“Big changes will have to happen.”

Mr Minton added although redundancies were inevitable, he believed the merger would improve overall performance from the service.

At the meeting Robert Dunn, councillor for Saltings ward, said both the public and the council needed to be realistic about the current financial situation.

“The fact is, there is not a lot of money about at the moment,” he said.

“We need to realise that this is perhaps our best option, otherwise the money will have to come out of front-line staff.”

The plans are set to be scrutinised by the council on November 9, with a final decision to be reached on December 16.

If the plans are agreed, the merger will start on April 1, 2013.