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Fire Service Asking for Council Tax Increase to Prevent Station Closures and Redundancies

Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Fire Authority is proposing to increase its share of the council tax for 2023/2024 by 6.6 per cent, which for a Band D property equates to an additional £4.95 a year and £79.92 in total.

With spiralling inflation affecting costs of supplies, energy, fuel, pay and everything else, Cambridgeshire Fire and Rescue Service was anticipating starting the 2023/24 financial year with a £1.1m deficit.

Chief Fire Officer Chris Strickland explained: “We have been making efficiencies within our Service for the last decade which have exceeded £7m in real terms, and this has been so that we could keep council tax increases to a minimum and continue to improve our service. We have done this protecting the frontline, managing to have the same number of firefighters riding a fire engine as well as introducing two additional fire engines available in the daytime. But this year has shown just how close to the wire we have now become, with the hot, dry summer creating a demand that pushed us to the limits.

“We’ve carried out a significant project this year looking at how we can find the £1.1m. We’ve managed to strip out some more efficiencies but that is only a small part of what is needed and even that inhibits our ability to continue to improve our service. The sad reality is, that even with housing growth in the county and our government funding increasing in line with inflation, unless we can ask for more money from council tax payments, we are going to have to make redundancies and potentially close up to three of our on-call fire stations to balance the budget.”

Councillor Edna Murphy, Chair of the Fire Authority continued: “We know that times are tough for people right now and raising our share of the council tax is not something we do lightly as we appreciate the impact it has on everyone. However, the alternative is being forced to close fire stations and also make people redundant and that isn’t something we want to do either.

“This has been a unique year where inflation has spiralled since the current year’s budget was set last January. Increasing the council tax by 6.6 per cent will allow us to balance the budget next year without being forced to make significant, damaging cuts that could have a detrimental impact on the service we currently provide.”

Chris concluded: “Everyone who works for Cambridgeshire Fire and Rescue Service cares passionately about serving their community and doing all they can to help keep everyone safe. Asking for a small increase in council tax payments this year will help us to maintain our current service and we remain continuously grateful and appreciative of the support we receive from our local communities.”

What your fire service does

In 2022, Cambridgeshire Fire and Rescue Service:

  • Took 13,154 emergency 999 calls for Cambridgeshire
  • Responded to 8,304 incidents
    • Of which 2248 were fires
    • 408 were road traffic collisions
    • And 1522 were special services which included:
      • 165 animal rescues
      • 579 calls to assist other agencies (eg ambulance and police)
      • 51 co-responding calls
      • 132 flooding incidents
      • 34 incidents dealing with a hazardous substance
      • 36 calls to remove a person from an object
      • 48 suicide attempts
      • 32 rescues from water
  • Carried out 5,881 Safe and Well visits in people’s homes
  • Carried out 967 audits in business premises.
  • Completed 59 school visits
  • Inspected 3,937 hydrants.

The Service employs

  • 229 wholetime (fulltime) firefighters
  • 259 on-call firefighters (who carry and respond to an alerter when needed)
  • 43 Control operators taking 999 calls and mobilising fire engines and officers for Cambridgeshire and Suffolk.
  • 212 professional support staff (working in many roles such as finance, procurement, HR, IT, fleet, communication, recruitment etc).

We operate from 28 fire stations, included our headquarters. Four are crewed 24/7, three are crewed in the daytime only and then revert to on-call at night, and the remainder are on-call fire stations with firefighters who are not station based but have other jobs or offer their time to respond to calls when needed via an alerter.