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Matthew Hancock
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Government minister encourages fire service merger

Monday, 10th December 2012.

FIRE Minister Brandon Lewis MP met with Suffolk and Cambridgeshire fire officials yesterday to discuss plans to further collaborate, up to a merger.

The meeting was attended by Cllr Mark Bee, leader of Suffolk County Council, and Cllr Colin Spence, cabinet member for public protection, along with Graham Stagg, chief fire officer for Cambridgeshire Fire and Rescue Service and Fred Brown, chairman of the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Fire Authority.

At present, both fire and rescue services are exploring plans for further collaboration, up to a full merger, to see if any savings could be made in order to protect the frontline from future budget cuts.

A decision to go ahead with further collaboration, up to a full merger, will be taken next year.

The county says the decision will need to be approved by both Suffolk County Council and Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Fire Authority and will be made on a fully-developed business case along with public opinion, which is being gathered in a three-month public consultation.

Cllr Spence said: “The discussion was very constructive, with the Minister agreeing that central government would do all it reasonably could to support our collaborative efforts with colleagues in Cambridgeshire."

Cllr Mark Bee said: “We were grateful to the Minister for making time to discuss our plans in what was a very useful dialogue.”

Cllr Fred Brown said: “We have ambitious plans for building on the success we have achieved through establishing a Combined Fire Control.

"Bringing these plans to fruition will require support from Government and it was re-assuring to hear from the Minister that such support will be made available, when necessary.”

The consultation began on Monday, October 22 and will end on Monday, January 14. A short questionnaire is available from the county council’s website.

More information about the proposals and an online questionnaire are available from www.suffolk.gov.uk/consultations

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