England

County Durham Fire service facing 'challenging year'

County Durham and Darlington Fire Authority has warned it is facing a "challenging" year ahead, as it attempts to make budget savings.

The authority has set its budget for 2011-12 at £29.8m, a £1.42m reduction on the previous year.

Savings are being made in a number of areas, including management costs and the costs of ill-health retirements.

New ways of working to reduce back office and support functions are also being implemented.

'Very creative'

Gordon Tennant, chairman of County Durham and Darlington Fire and Rescue Authority, said: "We already run a very efficient and highly professional service and we have worked extremely hard to identify savings that will not increase risks in our local communities."

Susan Johnson, chief executive of the fire service, said: "These are very challenging times for all public services.

"We have been preparing for this situation for the last 12 months and we have designed new ways of working that will ensure there are no changes to the service at the point of delivery.

"There is no doubt that there are more cuts to come and we will need to be very creative if we are to sustain our strong performance and ensure we have adequate resources to deal with major emergencies."

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