Hampshire & Isle of Wight

Hampshire and Isle of Wight fire authorities merger plan approved

Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service HQ Image copyright Google
Image caption Of the 311 people who responded to a public consultation on the plan, 53% were in favour of a merger

Plans to create a combined fire authority for Hampshire and the Isle of Wight have been approved despite concerns raised by island residents.

Councillors and fire chiefs unanimously voted in favour of the merger.

The authorities of Hampshire, Southampton, Portsmouth and the Isle of Wight will be brought together as one under the plans.

The 11 stations on the island will get £3m to bring them in line with standards across the rest of the area.

Just 311 people across the two counties responded to a 12-week public consultation on the plans. Of them 53% were in favour of the merger, the Local Democracy Reporting Service reported.

Council tax rise

However, 75% of island residents and 66% of businesses and parish councils expressed concern it could lead to a loss of control and accountability locally and island needs not being properly assessed.

Another concerns tabled by islanders was a local rise in council tax to bring Isle of Wight in line with what residents are paying on the main land.

Combining assets to reduce unnecessary spending and the council tax rise will help bridge a £460,000 funding gap, fire bosses said.

Neil Odin, chief fire officer, said: "We have absolutely listened to those views, however small the numbers, to make sure we have not missed anything in our proposed business case.

"We found that across the piece though, in total numbers - albeit low and therefore statistically challenging, 53% of people were in favour and a large proportion of staff across the two services were also in favour."

He added that unions had expressed in writing their support of the plans.

The proposals will now be sent to Westminster for ministerial approval.

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