Plans to merge fire services abandoned

Convincing: Rodney Rose

Convincing: Rodney Rose

First published in News Herald Series: Photograph of the Author by , Council Reporter, also covering Oxford city centre. Call me on 01865 425429

AMBITIOUS plans to merge the South East’s fire services look to have been scrapped after a senior Oxfordshire councillor raised concerns.

Among the proposals were plans for a single fire service which could mirror the boundaries of Thames Valley Police and a single fire service covering the whole of the South East.

But county councillor Rodney Rose, the deputy leader of Oxfordshire County Council, raised concerns about the proposals and said they have now effectively been dropped.

He said: “It is my absolute belief that Oxfordshire cannot get better than we have got at the moment, so why should we dilute that?

“What we get from our fire service is fantastic and it is working for the people of Oxfordshire.

“It is them we should be working for.”

Oxfordshire Fire and Rescue Service is currently run by the county council. Mr Rose said this allows the service to work with the authority’s highways and public health departments to deliver a more comprehensive service.

The merger ideas were considered last week by the South East Fire Improvement Partnership Board. A report to the board said public sector savings combined with a changing demand for fire and rescue services called for the way services work together to be re-examined.

Following the meeting in London on Thursday, the nine councils which make up the board agreed to go away and produce a summary of the various ways they are collaborating with other services.

Mr Rose said the board does not have the power to impose anything on any one member fire authority, and the ambitious merger proposals are now effectively off the table.

He said: “I have to say it was mainly me fighting against it. I managed to convince the other eight authorities that we didn’t really have consensus.

“I don’t think anything will go forward except finding better ways of saving money through co-operation, which is what we are doing anyway.”

Oxfordshire Fire and Rescue Service has 247 full-time firefighters and 352 on-call volunteers.

Since 2012 it has had a combined control room with the Royal Berkshire Fire Service.

Performance indicators show Oxfordshire Fire and Rescue prevented 56 people from dying in 2012/13 against its target of 36.

In the same period there were 873 significant fires in Oxfordshire, which was a reduction of 14 per cent on the previous year and below the target of 1,001.

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Comments (3)

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11:09am Tue 5 Aug 14

Oxwatch says...

If we can have a Thames Valley Police why not Fire. All other areas of Council expenditure are being rationalised so why not Fire? Other services are good too but Councillor Rose seems OK with sending them down the river.
If we can have a Thames Valley Police why not Fire. All other areas of Council expenditure are being rationalised so why not Fire? Other services are good too but Councillor Rose seems OK with sending them down the river. Oxwatch
  • Score: -16

12:57pm Tue 5 Aug 14

Laonieann says...

Maybe you should get your facts straight, Oxfordshire Fire control was not joined with Berkshire in 2012. We are currently separate control rooms, we are being made redundant at Christmas for this life endangering cut back to be made!! Had you responded to my Twitter messages you would be aware of the facts! As an Oxfordshire fire control operator I find the fact that our local paper has written us off highly insulting!!
Maybe you should get your facts straight, Oxfordshire Fire control was not joined with Berkshire in 2012. We are currently separate control rooms, we are being made redundant at Christmas for this life endangering cut back to be made!! Had you responded to my Twitter messages you would be aware of the facts! As an Oxfordshire fire control operator I find the fact that our local paper has written us off highly insulting!! Laonieann
  • Score: 25

1:41pm Tue 5 Aug 14

Andrew:Oxford says...

Oxwatch wrote:
If we can have a Thames Valley Police why not Fire. All other areas of Council expenditure are being rationalised so why not Fire? Other services are good too but Councillor Rose seems OK with sending them down the river.
Only through fear that it is stage on the pathway to "Thames Valley Council".
[quote][p][bold]Oxwatch[/bold] wrote: If we can have a Thames Valley Police why not Fire. All other areas of Council expenditure are being rationalised so why not Fire? Other services are good too but Councillor Rose seems OK with sending them down the river.[/p][/quote]Only through fear that it is stage on the pathway to "Thames Valley Council". Andrew:Oxford
  • Score: -3

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