Dorset & Wiltshire Fire and Rescue Authority has approved a budget of £57.064 million for 2020-21.
At its meeting on 12 February, the Authority agreed to increase its share of the council tax by less than 3p per week for Band D properties in Bournemouth, Christchurch & Poole, Dorset, Swindon and Wiltshire – an annual fire precept for Band D of £76.36 for the Fire and Rescue Service for the year starting on 1 April 2020.
Chief Fire Officer Ben Ansell said: “Elected Members and Officers have continued to lobby for the freedoms and flexibilities to increase the fire precept for Band D properties by a modest £5 per year or just 10p per week. The Fire Authority were only given the opportunity to increase by 1.99% or £1.49 on last year. However, this year we have also seen a small 1.6% inflation related increase in our grant funding, receiving an extra £229,000 on 2019-20. Whilst this is welcome, at this stage it is for one year only.
“Across our Service area we are committed to recruiting more on-call firefighters, who are so vital to our predominantly rural Service, and to maintaining our commitment to prevention and protection activities. Whether working in schools, delivering Safe & Well visits to people in their homes, or responding to and implementing the recommendations of the Grenfell Tower Public Inquiry, our priority remains to change and save lives.”
Cllr Rebecca Knox, Chair of Dorset & Wiltshire Fire and Rescue Authority, added: “Our Fire and Rescue Service delivers so much to our local communities – people are very aware of the 24/7 emergency response, but there is also a wealth of education, prevention and protection work being carried out every single day to help people to stay safe. The decisions made today by Members continue our commitment to maintaining this excellent service to local people.”
Also considered by the Authority at this meeting was a paper providing an update on Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector of Fire and Rescue Services, Sir Thomas Winsor’s State of Fire and Rescue 2019 report, which was released in January following the results of all fire and rescue service inspections in England. The report gives four key recommendations for the Home Office, Local Government Association, National Fire Chiefs Council and fire and rescue services nationally. Dorset & Wiltshire Fire and Rescue Service received its inspection report in June 2019 and was one of only 16 fire and rescue services in England, awarded ‘Good’ in all three pillars of Efficiency, Effectiveness and People.