Public views sought on budget consultation

The body that governs Shropshire Fire and Rescue Service, is inviting opinions on plans to increase its share of council tax for the next financial year.

Shropshire Fire Authority is proposing an increase of £1.99 per cent to the portion of council tax which goes to Shropshire Fire and Rescue Service.

This increase equates to just over £2 a year or 4p per week.

The full council tax bill also pays for the Police and services provided by local authorities.

Chairman of Shropshire Fire Authority, Councillor Eric Carter said: “We are constantly reviewing how our services are delivered to make them as efficient as possible.

“This increase provides an opportunity to negotiate some certainty into the future particularly in light of the COVID-19 pandemic and new trading relationships with the European Union.

“This funding will also enable us to continue providing an economical business model – constantly improving how we deliver fire cover and support for businesses and residents throughout Shropshire while also investing any savings to minimise borrowing for larger projects such as refurbishment of stations and the replacement of new fire engines.

“The proposal we are putting forward will also help the Service deliver objectives within its Integrated Risk Management Plan 2020-2024.

“These include engaging and reaching out to communities in new ways, reviewing how resources are deployed around the county, making response times easier to understand and increasing the size of the business fire safety team to support Shropshire’s many business owners.

“I know the pandemic has had a major impact on everybody in the county and this year more than ever, I want to hear from people about their views.”

Chair of the Fire Authority’s strategy and resources committee, Councillor Chris Mellings said: “We live in very uncertain times but the Fire Authority remains committed to providing a first class fire and rescue service which the public of Shropshire value.

“Over the years the Authority has been very prudent in how we spend taxpayer’s money to be able to deliver what is nationally recognised as a top performing fire and rescue service which meets the needs of Shropshire people.

“We recognise the difficulties people are facing at present. We certainly don’t wish to take any more Council Tax than we need to but at 4p per week, we feel the proposed increase is reasonable to ensure we can continue to protect the people of Shropshire.

“But we want to hear your views on our proposals before making a final decision – so please let us know what you think.”

More than 75 per cent of the Service’s budget is spent on employing staff – its most valuable resource – and in 2019, £450,000 of savings were made when the Service changed shift patterns across stations.

The remainder is spent on essential supplies and services, transport, property and information and communications technology, as well as funding capital programmes. 

To give your views on the Service’s budget plans, email before February 10 when Shropshire Fire Authority is due to make its final decision.

2nd February, 2021