Fire and rescue service council tax frozen
Chief Fire Officer Mark Jones

Chief Fire Officer Mark Jones is pictured.

Related article: Chairman issues statement over funding (28 October 2010)

9 February 2011

The coming year’s council tax to pay for Buckinghamshire Fire & Rescue Service
will remain at this year’s level, despite a drop in government funding of about
£1 million.

Cuts are being made to back-room functions and management, with 17 posts going, but not to emergency response provisions.

Buckinghamshire & Milton Keynes Fire Authority voted unanimously for the proposal at its meeting today. The band D charge for the financial year starting on 1 April will remain at £59.13, or about £1.14 a week.

The authority set a budget for 2011-12 of £29.4 million and said it would continue to look at ways of reducing running costs.

Chairman Councillor David Rowlands said: “In approving this budget, the authority has carefully considered the implications upon the service. I feel that it is good news for the people we serve that they will continue to enjoy an excellent standard of service.”

Chief Fire Officer Mark Jones said: “Obviously the reduction in grant from the government and our desire to minimise the effect upon local taxpayers have created a need for the service to make cuts in certain areas.

“We have confined these cuts to back-room functions and management so as to be able to maintain our emergency response provisions.

“I am grateful to the MPs of Buckinghamshire and Milton Keynes, who have shown support for the authority’s funding position. Their keen interest and support is a real boost to the service.

“Moving forward, I have been tasked by the authority with further reducing managerial costs and will be bringing forward proposals over the forthcoming months. I am delighted to be able to reassure the people who are served by this fire and rescue service of the same level of response and community safety provision.

“Buckinghamshire Fire & Rescue Service is already delivering high safety standards at one of the lowest costs in England. The tradition of maintaining high emergency response standards while ensuring low council tax increases will continue.”

Councillor Rowlands added: “The government has made cuts across all public expenditure areas and the fire and rescue service has taken its share. Historically, this authority has been very poorly supported by government grant funding and it is testament to the professionalism of the service’s senior management that they have been able to take this hit without increasing council tax or diminishing emergency response provisions.

“I know that our Chief Fire Officer is trying to get the government to agree that taxes should be directly ring-fenced for the purposes of protecting funding for the fire and rescue service, and I hope that this idea gains support.

“The authority is not complacent and we have tasked our Chief Fire Officer with developing further proposals to reduce the managerial costs of the service.”

Buckinghamshire & Milton Keynes Fire Authority receives about 4p in every £1 of the total council tax bill. The rest pays for council and police services.

Council tax bills in Buckinghamshire and Milton Keynes, which will be sent out next month, will include the following totals to pay for Buckinghamshire Fire & Rescue Service: