Decision to axe fire crew at Oakham is deferred

Lincs Fire and Rescue News.

Lincs Fire and Rescue News.

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A decision on axing a fire crew from Oakham has been deferred while the service considers a proposal by Rutland County Council to save it.

Leicestershire Fire and Rescue Service held a meeting on Wednesday to discuss proposals aimed at reducing a £7.5m funding gap over the next five years that the region’s fire and rescue service faces.

Among the cuts proposed was axing one of the two fire engines at Oakham, along with the 10 retained fire crew who man it, and reducing the number of fire fighters on the remaining appliance to four from five.

The fire authority went ahead with its other cost-cutting plans, which includes removing a fire engine from Loughborough and one from Leicester city, but it deferred making a decision on the future of Oakham until its next meeting on March 23.

The deferral comes following a potential offer from Rutland County Council as part of its council tax consultation for 2015/16. The council has asked people whether it should offer £75,000 to help fund the fire service for the next two financial years.

A spokesman for Rutland County Council said: “The council has made provisions within its draft 2015/16 budget to support Leicestershire Fire Service by offering £75,000 funding in each of the next two financial years, to preserve frontline services in Rutland.

“We have consulted on this issue, along with other key proposals, and a final decision on the budget will be taken by full council on February 23.”

The Integrated Risk Management Plan lays out the plans for Leicestershire Fire and Rescue Service for the next five years. The service consulted on its proposals between October and December.

The proposals said Rutland is a ‘relatively low risk area in terms of the number of incidents’ and advised that adequate cover would be available from the 24/7 whole-time fire engine at Oakham, with the second fire engine coming from near by fire and rescue stations.

The Fire Brigade Union campaigned against the cuts, saying the proposals “increased risk to firefighter and public safety”.

Graham Vaux, from the union said this week: “I think the fire association has finally started to consider that the proposals are just not safe.”

He was also concerned that the money being offered by Rutland County Council wouldn’t sustain the service for the next two years and was worried about what would happen beyond that.