Government funding promised for potential merger
The Government has earmarked £5.54 million to support a potential combination of Wiltshire and Dorset Fire & Rescue Services.
The bid was made by Wiltshire FRS on behalf of the two organisations and is one of 37 projects nationally to win financial support.
If the Fire Authorities of Wiltshire and Dorset agree to a merger, the money – from the Fire Transformation Fund – will be used to:
• Further strengthen the focus on prevention by extending the unique and award-winning education facilities of Streetwise to the communities of Wiltshire and Swindon, creating a multi-agency strategic hub in a central geographic location that provides easy access for partners;
• Harmonise ICT infrastructure to assist in addressing the challenges of being a large and predominantly rural Fire & Rescue Service; and
• Drive transition towards a new Combined Fire Authority.
Wiltshire and Swindon Combined Fire Authority will meet on 11 November to decide whether or not to seek a merger with Dorset.
A 13 week consultation on three options for ways that Wiltshire Fire & Rescue Service could operate closes this week, and responses from the public, staff, partners and other interested parties are now being collated.
As well as an on-line questionnaire, the consultation included residents’ forums, meetings with local businesses and voluntary groups, and presentations at Area Boards.
People were asked to express their preference for the following three options:
• Scenario 1: Remain independent and increase collaboration with Wiltshire Council and Swindon Borough Council.
• Scenario 2: Remain independent and increase collaboration with Dorset Fire Authority while also collaborating with Wiltshire Council and Swindon Borough Council.
• Scenario 3: Merge with Dorset Fire Authority to create a single Combined Fire Authority while also collaborating with Wiltshire Council and Swindon Borough Council.
A parallel consultation was carried out in Dorset, and the Fire Authority there is meeting on 4 November to decide whether to seek a merger with Wiltshire.
The business cases for combination, the consultation report and other supporting documents will be available on-line at www.wiltsfire.gov.uk and www.dorsetfire.gov.uk from 28 October, ahead of these two public meetings.
Michael Franklin MInstLM
Partnership & Community Engagement Manager (Wiltshire Council Area)
Wiltshire Fire & Rescue Service
Tele: 07919 306037