Controversial plans to create a combined fire authority for the Isle of Wight and Hampshire have been delayed by a year.
As previously reported by Isle of Wight Radio, the new authority, which will be responsible for fire and rescue services on the Island and in Hampshire, including Portsmouth and Southampton, was due to go live in April 2020.
However, the Isle of Wight Council says “unforeseen pressure” on both Home Office policy and legal resource over the first half of 2019 has seen the expected incorporation date pushed back to April 2021.
Chief fire officer Neil Odin said:
“We remain totally focused on delivering this important initiative and will now need to review the programme plan we have recently constructed together.
“The additional 12 months that this will run for will provide an opportunity for us to more closely align our services in advance of the CFA going live than was otherwise going to be possible.
“The project plans will now be changed to meet the needs of our new timeline.”
Members of the Hampshire and Isle of Wight Combined Fire Authority programme team met with government officials recently to discuss changes to the timeline previously given by them.
They confirmed the original ‘go live’ date of April 2020 was no longer possible.
Building on the successful partnership already established between Hampshire and Isle of Wight fire and rescue services, the Island council’s Cabinet backed the plans in January.
The move will provide access to more resources across both counties and further improve what is already an excellent service.
Councillor Tig Outlaw, Cabinet member for public protection, said:
“Although this delay by government is disappointing, we will use the extra time wisely to ensure everything is in place to go live in April 2021.
“The decision to move towards a combined fire authority will bring us even closer together, making us more resilient, alongside the other operational benefits it will bring.”