Fire authority agrees to council tax increase

THE FIRE service has increased its section of council tax by 1.95 per cent.

East Sussex Fire Authority (ESFA) receives a section of the overall bill and is therefore able to increase or freeze the amount it demands from taxpayers.

And, a week after East Sussex County Council announced a similar increase in its share of the overall bill, Rother District Council announced no increase,

ESFA revealed its charges for 2014/15 will rise by just under two per cent.

This means the authority’s Band D council tax will increase by £1.59 to £83.45, having been set at £81.86 for the previous four years.

And that means the fire service will cost taxpayers £1.60 per week - an increase of three pence per week for a Band D property. Fire Authority members met last week to discuss budget plans for the coming year, which include savings of £2million.

Chairman Phil Howson, said: “Reductions in government funding meant that in July 2013, we estimated we needed to find savings of £7.1million over the next five years.

“This is an enormous challenge but we are determined to change the way we work so we can continue to provide a high performing service to the community within the reality of a shrinking budget.

“We worked hard to make savings but we decided to make a small increase in council tax to help reduce the impact on frontline services.”

Controversial plans to downgrade some local fire stations have been announced – much to the chagrin of union officials who warn reduced services could put lives at risk.

For more on that story turn to page 10.