One full time firefighter post to be lost from Sleaford in revised cost saving plans

Sleaford full time firefighters in action in town. EMN-160721-131639001
Sleaford full time firefighters in action in town. EMN-160721-131639001

New proposals to make savings in the fire and rescue service will see 12 full-time firefighter posts cut from stations around the county, including one from Sleaford.

Lincolnshire Fire and Rescue is making revised recommendations following the response to its 11-week consultation process.

This will contribute to £405,000 savings this year as part of £1.67m needed to be saved over three years.

This comes within the Lincolnshire County Council budget and during 2016-17 the council has to find £60million of savings. As a priority service the fire service would see a small reduction in its budget – around four per cent.

The recommendations will be considered at the County Council’s community and public safety scrutiny committee on Tuesday July 26 ahead of a decision by the council’s Executive on September 6.

The revised proposal maintains a 24-hour fire station within the City of Lincoln which will be crewed by 20 operational firefighters across four watches. It addresses the principal concerns raised during the consultation period about a previous proposal to switch to retained (part-time) cover in the evenings at Lincoln South fire station, enabling current reaction times to be maintained.

To off-set this changed proposal there would be changes to the duty systems at other full time fire stations, reducing full time firefighter posts by eight from around the county including one at Sleaford at its full-time station on East Road, and four from Lincoln south. This is compared to the 13 envisaged to be lost in the original proposal, after discussions with union representatives.

The service will also now maintain two Rescue Support Units subject to a review of the capability and other specialist provision.

An Aerial Ladder Platform will be relocated from Skegness to Boston. The joint project being run with the ambulance service will be continued and developed. And a system will be introduced to recoup costs from attending unwanted fire alarms.

Acting Chief Fire Officer Nick Borrill commented: “We are very grateful to our staff, representative bodies and local residents for coming forward and sharing their views on the initial proposals as part of our consultation. We have had over 300 responses, all of which have helped inform our recommendations.

“An alternative proposal was put forward by the Fire Brigades Union (FBU) around the Lincoln South option which, over the past few weeks, we’ve worked together to develop to ensure it will allow us to meet our savings targets, whilst minimising the impact on service delivery.”

Nick Worth, executive councillor for Fire and Rescue and Cultural Services at the County Council, said: “We have listened and taken on board the strong views expressed in the consultation feedback and as a result are recommending changes to the original proposal. I am very pleased that by working closely with the Fire Brigades Union, we have found a sustainable and efficient solution going forward.

“We are operating in challenging times and sadly we continue to experience a decreasing amount of funding from central government. This means that every public service we operate has had to re-evaluate and find efficiencies to deliver within a reduced budget.

“As a high priority service within the County Council, Lincolnshire Fire and Rescue has only seen a minimal reduction in its budget – whereas some services have been reduced significantly or stopped altogether.

“I’m confident that Nick and his team will be able to continue to deliver an efficient and effective service for the people of Lincolnshire.”