Shropshire MPs yesterday took Shropshire Fire & Rescue Service Chief Fire Officer John Redmond with members of the Authority to meet Fire Minister Brandon Lewis MP in Westminster.
Philip Dunne, MP for Ludlow, arranged the meeting, at which fellow Shropshire MPs Daniel Kawczynski MP, Mark Pritchard MP, and Owen Paterson MP also attended. They emphasised to the Fire Minister how Shropshire’s Fire service has worked hard to maximise efficiencies in recent years to operate within its budget. It is one of the two best performing fire services in the country according to the National Audit Office.
Mr Dunne said “This was the third meeting I had arranged for Shropshire Fire Chiefs with the Fire Minister over as many years to argue the case for fairer funding to take account of the costs of servicing rural communities in Shropshire.
Fire Minister, Brandon Lewis MP, was very sympathetic about recognising the issues and needs faced in rural areas. It was a timely discussion ahead of the Autumn Statement next week and funding allocations due next month to fire authorities.
I am hopeful there will be some further recognition of sparsity in the settlement and the opportunity for Shropshire Fire and Rescue to bid in to a transformation fund to help pay for innovative measures it is currently considering to boost efficiency even further.
SFRS has already taken many of the measures identified by Sir Ken Knight in his review of Fire Services to make it one of the best performing services in the country, including efficiency savings of £2.3m since 2004/5. Over the past 10 years it has also seen a 40% drop in callouts, has one of the lowest cost management teams and has reduced operational headcount by 10%. The Service also now crew 80% of its appliances with on call retained staff, and is collaborating with neighbouring Fire Services to achieve an efficient Command and Control structure.
Also attending the meeting were Councillor Stuart West and Councillor Eric Carter.