Go ahead for fire authority consultation

A 12-week consultation into creating a new combined fire authority for the Island and Hampshire has been given the go ahead.

The Isle of Wight Council’s Cabinet has accepted a detailed business case for a combined authority and approved a full consultation on the plans.

The consultation will seek the views of key stakeholders, including unions, town and parish councils and the Isle of Wight public.

It will get underway this summer – with a similar process in Hampshire – and there will be a report due back on the findings in the autumn.

The new body, if approved, will bring together the governance of the Island’s fire authority – which is currently the council – and the Hampshire Fire Authority, which includes the Portsmouth and Southampton areas.

Following the consultation and Full Council consideration, the proposal for a combined authority will go before Cabinet to approve. The final decision will rest with the secretary of state.

Cabinet member for public protection, Councillor Tig Outlaw, said: “Our plan is to now get underway with the consultation as soon as is practical – and we will publicise full details of how people can contribute their views.

“This is the next stage as we and Hampshire look at the case to combine the overall governance of our two authorities. It is important to note that no change to the current operations of our fire and rescue service is envisaged in the detailed business case.

“This is all about achieving what is best for our Island community, ensuring the future resilience of the service and the safety of our residents.

“For the last few years we have had a strategic partnership agreement with Hampshire – which has given improved capacity, shared expertise and significant career development opportunities for our firefighters and officers. That agreement comes to an end in 2020 and the proposed combined authority is the next potential step.

“This detailed business case has explored the risks and benefits of a new combined authority, with public safety paramount alongside a focus on efficiency, effectiveness and economic factors.

“It indicates a combined authority would enhance capacity and improve levels of service, including in key preventative areas such as community and business safety initiatives. This consultation will give our community the opportunity to give us their views on this important matter.”