Fire service's council tax precept to increase

Monday, February 17th, 2020 4:17pm

By Eddie Bisknell, Local Democracy Reporter @EddieBisk

Derbyshire fire service has agreed to increase its share of council tax by 1.98 per cent.

The county’s fire and rescue service – governed by the fire authority – has set a budget for 2020 of nearly £40 million.

Its council tax precept will increase by £1.51 a year for Band D taxpayers – rising to £77.73 annually.

The fire service makes up a small percentage of the overall tax bill, with the rest being made up by the police, district or borough councils and county council – along with parish and town councils.

Papers published last week by the fire authority show that it aims to bring in £2.8 million this year by selling its former Burton Road, Littleover headquarters.

It occupied the property for nearly half a century before moving to the police headquarters in Ripley.

The nearly five-acre site is currently being marketed by commercial property agent Salloway.

This year, it hopes to make a further £1 million by selling six fire houses in Matlock and nearly another £1 million from six more in Glossop.

The authority also aims to plough more money into co-location schemes with the police this year in Ascot Drive, Derby; Melbourne; Heanor and Clay Cross – totalling £650,000

A combined £2.6 million will be spent on co-location schemes in Heanor, Clay Cross, Matlock and Glossop next year.

This will be followed by £6.75 million in 2022 on co-locations schemes in Heanor, Matlock and Glossop.

Its budget for 2020 to 2021 will also see the authority buy three new fire engines at a cost of £810,000.

It will buy eight more fire engines next year, spending £2.2 million on the appliances.

Derbyshire’s fire service also secured emergency government funds to pay back other fire services that helped it out during the Toddbrook Reservoir Dam crisis in August.

It paid out £312,000 to other fire services that helped out, using emergency cash known as Bellwin funds.

Similarly, Derbyshire received £67,000 from Bellwin funds for flood support in Wainfleet, Lincolnshire, and is expected to get £30,000 for flood support in Fishlake, Doncaster.

The fire authority is set to make budget cuts of nearly £380,000 this year, with £2.13 million more required from 2021 to 2024.

Papers published last week show that the authority aims to take on 30 trainee firefighters this year, while there are more than 40 vacancies.

SImon Allsop, the fire authority’s director of finance, wrote: “The Fire and Rescue Service continues to provide a responsive and high performing service to our communities as highlighted in last year’s Annual Report.

“Continued challenges force new ways of working, through shared approaches to issues like estates, procurement and training, employment arrangements, and mobilisation.

“Derbyshire Fire and Rescue Service is well placed to safeguard its emergency operations and to continue to protect public safety through ‘Invest to Save’ initiatives and an ongoing commitment to collaborative working.”

He says that, had the authority not taken early action, the organisation would have had a budget shortfall of £12 million this year, reaching £14 million over the next few years.

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