1:00pm Thursday 10th January 2013
By Peter Magill
EMERGENCY fire cover across Lancashire could be affected as bosses try to plug a £6million funding gap.
The budget gap faced by Lancashire Fire and Rescue Service could have been as high as between £9million and £10million, fire authority members have been told.
But back-office and non-pay related savings of £4million have been drawn up, over the next three years, and a large chunk of the service’s reserves can be used to offset the deficit.
However this would still leave a savings requirement of between £600,000 and £800,000, depending on council tax grant decisions, for the authority to find.
And Keith Mattinson, the service’s corporate services director, believes the upcoming emergency services review, and a later review of community safety functions, can result in future cutbacks.
He has told the fire authority that while the reductions are manageable in 2013-14 and 2014-15, the real difficulties will arise in 2015-16, as continuing to use reserves is ‘not sustainable in the medium term’.
In a report, Mr Mattinson said: “As such the authority will have to look to the emergency cover review, which is due to report in 2013, and a further review of prevention andprotection, which is scheduled for 2014-15, to offset the majority of the remaining funding gap on a recurring basis.”
Currently the service is recouping a significant sum as a result of moving to a new day crewing system, which has already been introduced in Rawtenstall and Darwen and is set to be rolled out to Nelson.
Officials from the Fire Brigades Union have previously voiced concerns about the rate of cuts being imposed and the safety implications of reducing existing cover.
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