Vow over possible fire service merger

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PUBLIC safety must be the main consideration in talks over merging fire services across the county, a councillor has vowed.

Cllr Phil Scott, a member of the East Sussex Fire Authority (ESFA) spoke out after revelations, recently, that plans to have a single fire service covering East Sussex, West Sussex and Brighton and Hove could move a step closer.

The idea was first mooted in December as a cost-cutting plan.

And, if it is agreed by the local fire authorities at their upcoming meetings, a 12-week public consultation could be launched within weeks.

Cllr Scott said he and his colleagues would need to see the full details of what is being proposed but insisted that he would not support anything which undermined the work of the fire service.

He said: “We need to wait and see what the options are, what the proposed savings will be in the longer term and what benefits a pan Sussex fire service would bring to both counties.

“We need to ensure it would offer a first class service with the right amount of people in the right place to ensure that working practices for frontline fire fighters are as safe as they possibly can be, and that the people of both East and West Sussex can feel confident that when they call 999 the response is appropriate to their needs.”

He accepted the plan could lead to “massive savings” with streamlined management structures, but said he did have concerns about removing local accountability.