Improving preventative work, different training and career advancements are just a few of the benefits of merging the Isle of Wight’s fire authority with others across the Solent, say council bosses.
If approved by councillors next week, plans to create a combined fire authority including the Isle of Wight, Hampshire, Portsmouth and Southampton would see eleven representatives sit on the new authority, making decisions which will affect each of those areas.
The Isle of Wight, Southampton and Portsmouth would each have one representative, while Hampshire would take the other eight seats.
The Isle of Wight’s cabinet member behind the plans, Councillor Tig Outlaw, says he was initially concerned that the Isle of Wight wouldn’t have an appropriate voice but has since been reassured.
Speaking to Isle of Wight Radio in September Councillor Outlaw said:
“The Isle of Wight will be treated no differently. Having spoken to Chris Carter, who’s currently the lead member on the Hampshire Fire Authority, he has assured me that everyone in Hampshire, Portsmouth and Southampton are aware of the unique challenges that the Isle of Wight offers, and they are absolutely dedicated to ensuring that if it was to go ahead that the resilience was there for the Isle of Wight.”
Meanwhile, the Chief Fire Officer for the Isle of Wight admits there are some differences in the equipment being used by the currently separate authorities.
Howard Watts said:
“That’s one of the reasons why within the strategic partnership we’re looking at join procurement and wherever we can, aligning our equipment.”
Howard says efficiencies will be “exploited”, and that merging the authorities will also lead to improvements in preventative work.
The proposals are recommended for approval at next Wednesday’s (16) Full Council meeting.