England

Wiltshire and Swindon Fire service backs Dorset merger

Fire chiefs in Wiltshire and Swindon have voted unanimously in favour of a merger with Dorset's fire authority.

A full merger would create a new combined fire authority which is seen by officials as the best way to secure the future of the service.

Dorset Fire Authority had already unanimously agreed to the move in a meeting on 4 November.

The plan would have to be agreed by government before a single combined service could be created.

The authorities believe a merger will help combat the reduction in central government funding.

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

If approved locally and nationally, a single authority with a combined budget of around £55m will be established from April 2016.

Wiltshire Fire and Rescue Service's Simon Routh-Jones said: " I am determined that local people will continue to have an outstanding fire and rescue service, and combination with Dorset gives us that certainty."

Other options considered involved closer collaboration with local authorities and each other.

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