Chief Fire Officer issues statement

Following the Avon Fire Authority meeting on Monday 19 February, Chief Fire Officer Simon Shilton has issued a statement.

Avon Fire & Rescue Service, Chief Fire Officer, Simon Shilton said: “Following on from the budget statement on local authority funding, we have a deficit of over £4 million over the course of the medium-term financial plan. To ignore the deficit is not an option I have available to consider. What we can do is start to introduce our savings and efficiencies more gradually, but we still have significant savings to find.

“At the Fire Authority finance meeting on 19 February, Members decided to set the council tax precept, but some Members suggested an alternative proposal regarding the allocation of funding for year one within the medium-term financial plan. The proposal explored the option of moving money around to reduce the amount of savings required in year one. However, in doing so this would have consequences and significantly impact other areas of the organisation.

“It was therefore agreed that Avon Fire & Rescue Service Officers, would explore the impact of this proposal and what the implications would be for the wider Service to present back to the Fire Authority at their meeting on 20 March. Our budget planning processes take account of all expenditure across the Service and therefore moving money around in this way simply means that it must be taken from elsewhere.

“As a Service we know we need to invest in our future and in making significant improvements aligned to the recommendations outlined in our His Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services action plan. We have also demonstrated how an adjustment of our resource allocation ensures efficiency, productivity and ultimately value for money for local people.

“In an ideal world, we would not have to make these difficult decisions, but unfortunately the harsh reality is that we must take the funding we have and find innovative ways to utilise the resources available to us, balancing the requirements of having efficient resourcing models, the best equipment and appliances, and fit for purpose buildings and infrastructures, to keep our communities safe and the Service resilient and strong.

“As Chief Fire Officer I have a duty to present to the Fire Authority, a balanced budget which complies with the Authority’s statutory duties. The fact remains that to meet this aim we still have a forecast deficit and work will continue to consider what options are available to make the necessary efficiencies and structural changes to deliver a balanced budget. Any alternative options in finding such efficiencies are far worse and will have a significant impact on our attendance times and service delivery to our communities.”

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