Hampshire & Isle of Wight

Isle of Wight and Hampshire fire services 'to work together'

Plans for the Isle of Wight and Hampshire fire authorities to work closer together are to be discussed by councillors.

Isle of Wight Council said a partnership with Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service (HFRS) would provide "significant benefits" for Isle of Wight Fire and Rescue Service (WFRS).

It is also expected to save the council almost £1.2m over the next three years.

The proposals will be considered at a full council meeting on 21 January.

The local authority said the move was "no form of merger".

It said it would enable increased access to resources, as well as allow IWFRS to retain its identity, including "full Isle of Wight political control".

'Retain all stations'

Under the proposals, the council said HFRS would provide "strategic leadership and management" for IWFRS.

Councillor Phil Jordan said: "By sharing management expertise, we are able to retain all of our local fire stations and maintain front-line firefighter posts, while enhancing services for residents and providing career progression opportunities for fire service staff across the island."

Subject to consultation, the council said the island's current chief fire officer, area manager and group manager would be transferred to HFRS.

Area and group managers would maintain a physical presence on the island, with the area manager assuming the role of "local senior officer".

The council said the plans had been developed in consultation with the Fire Brigades Union, Retained Firefighters Union and Unison which "support the partnership approach which minimises the impact on front-line service delivery".

Mark Chiverton, branch secretary for Isle of Wight Unison, said it was "continuing to monitor the situation closely".

Earlier this month, Isle of Wight Council said it had to find £14.5m of cuts in 2015/2016 to balance its budget.

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