Cheshire Fire Service funding could prompt new law | Knutsford Times

Cheshire Fire Service funding could prompt new law

By on December 7, 2017

Cheshire fire service could become the first in the country to raise a referendum to increase service funding through council tax with a rise of up to 5% suggested.

Despite warnings of the cost of such a referendum from Cheshire’s chief fire officer, Paul Hancock, councillors can only currently request up to a 2% rise without public approval. This has led to Fire Authority chair Bob Rudd to request a lifting of the need for a referendum.

A 5% rise could cost an extra £3.60 per year for a band D household, raising and extra £831,000 for the authority.

 

Cheshire Fire Service, tasked with making savings of £4m out of its £41.3m annual budget, has until now planned to keep any increase within the 2% limit until 2020 by implementing other strategies such as on-call retained fire officers in Crewe and Ellesmere Port rather than full time firefighters.

 

Mr Hancock said such a change in the law – which would remove the 2% cap – would “improve the financial position of the authority”.

“The cost of a referendum would prohibit one for the time being”, he added, saying he hoped for “flexibility” from ministers.

About Lucy Thorpe

Lucy Thorpe is a freelance journalist who writes for the Knutsford Times - covering stories and news in and around Cheshire and Greater Manchester. If you've got a story to share, or would like to speak to Lucy, please email news@knutsfordtimes.co.uk

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