Hampshire & Isle of Wight

Hampshire and Isle of Wight fire authorities merger delayed

IOW fire station
Image caption Under the plans, the 11 stations on the island would receive £3m

Plans to create a combined fire authority for Hampshire and the Isle of Wight have been delayed.

The new body overseeing fire and rescue services was due to begin operating in April 2020.

Isle of Wight Council said "unforeseen pressure on both Home Office policy and legal resource in the first half of 2019" had prompted a delay until 2021.

Under the plans, the 11 fire stations on the island would get £3m to bring them in line with mainland standards.

The council said the delay was disappointing but the merger would eventually bring "operational benefits".

Isle of Wight councillors and fire chiefs voted in favour of the merger earlier this year.

Following a meeting with government officials, the council was told the April 2020 start was now "no longer possible".

A Home Office spokesman said it was due to "time needed to assess the business case and the associated legal, parliamentary and technical aspects".

He declined to confirm if parliamentary and Home Office time taken up by Brexit preparations had contributed to the delay.

Chief fire officer Neil Odin said the agreed programme plan would now be reviewed.

"The additional 12 months that this will run for will provide an opportunity for us to more closely align our services in advance of the combined fire authority going live than was otherwise going to be possible," he said.

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