Fire service protected for just a fiver

By Chris Willmott Wednesday 13 February 2013 Updated: 13/02 14:42

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Buy photos » Just £5 a year extra per household to maintain fire services.

FIRE STATIONS will stay open, frontline services will be unaffected, five-minute target response times to life-threatening incidents will remain and more firefighters could be recruited.

That is the promise of fire authority chiefs as they ask for an extra £5 per year - 10p a week for Band D properties - from the region's council tax payers.

Bosses from West Midlands Fire Service will consider the plan on Monday (February 18) and have promised that every penny will go towards frontline service.

Cuts, closures and job losses have been the headline stealers for the brigade in recent years as it fights government cash-cutting of over £20million.

By 2015 firefighter numbers will have fallen to 1,230 - nearly 4,000 fewer than 2011, but if the new council tax precent is agreed it could result ina recruitment drive by the end of the year.

Coun John Edwards, chair of West Midlands Fire and Rescue Authority, said people would still be making the lowest contribution anywhere in the country.

"This small increase is needed because we are losing over £20 million of central government grant during the current four-year period," he said.

“The small increase we are proposing will ensure we keep our front line as strong as possible, keep all our fire stations open, and maintain our first class five-minute target response time to life-threatening incidents.

"The men and women who work for the fire and rescue service provide a world-class service for communities across our region.

"I hope people will agree that it’s worth an extra fiver a year to protect that."

Vij Randeniya, chief fire officer, added: “Our firefighters and staff are continuing to rise to the challenge of unprecedented financial pressures, and are providing a service we can all be justly proud of."

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