England

Wiltshire and Dorset fire service in £5m grant pledge

Wiltshire Fire and Rescue bosses have said a £5.5m government grant if it merges with Dorset fire service will give financial stability.

The government said on Friday £5.5m had been earmarked in the event of the merger going ahead.

But the Fire Brigades Union said the money would only pay the merger costs and would not protect the service from future government budget cuts.

Wiltshire Fire Authority will vote on the merger on 11 November.

'Strong organisation'

It is one of 37 projects across the country in line for funds from the government's Fire Transformation Fund.

Secretary of the Wiltshire Fire Brigades Union, Brent Thorley, said: "That money is to fund change - whatever change happens you need an investment to make it happen.

"That money is the government giving a one-off fee to cover up for the cuts it's made."

A joint command and control centre is due to be based in Potterne, Wiltshire, from next year.

Chief fire officer at Wiltshire Fire and Rescue, Simon Routh-Jones, said: "Certainly it enables us to form a strong organisation with resilience with the financial stability to be able to take it forward and this bid will put us in a good place."

The authorities have said by 2017 it was expected the Wiltshire service would be facing a £4.2m deficit and Dorset £3.7m.

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