Fire Authority to raise council tax costs

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Merseyside Fire & Rescue demonstration. Pic © Mersey Fire / Twitter

Merseyside Fire & Rescue demonstration. Pic © Mersey Fire / Twitter

Merseyside Fire Authority will raise its council tax precept to just below 2% following what it says is one of the largest government grant cuts the country has seen.

The precept means that most taxpayers on Merseyside will now see an annual increase of 94p for their fire and rescue service.

The decision follows the closure of Allerton fire station which is to become obsolete after a three-month consultation period with the public and stakeholders.

The authority had previously agreed a two-year financial plan covering the period up to and including 2015/16, resulting in the need to make further savings of £6.3 million.

Just under £3m of savings is to be found through support services, debt repayment and the control of staff salaries. However, £3.4 million needs to be saved through the frontline services.

Councillor Dave Hanratty, Chair of Merseyside Fire and Rescue Authority, said: “We have made huge reductions in management costs and support services but the Government has left us with no option but to cut our frontline services even further. Our firefighter numbers will reduce from 1,500 a decade ago to less than 700 by the end of 2015/16.”

There are further proposals to merge St Helens and Eccleston fire stations with the creation of a new station in St Helens town centre. Today marks the beginning of a 12-week consultation period on the proposed unity of Upton and West Kirby fire stations.

Chief Fire Officer Dan Stephens said: “Significant reductions in fire appliances and firefighters mean that we eventually have to reduce the number of community fire stations.”

About Hollie Bradbury, JMU Journalism