ASHFORD BREAKING KENT

Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue Service would like to hear your views on how much you would be prepared to pay for the services provided by the fire service through your council tax

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Each year the Service presents options for Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue Authority’s consideration demonstrating what an increase, or no increase, would mean to the Service.

As a combined authority, we set our own budget and council tax which is separate to those set by other local authorities. Our funding comes from a central government grant, a precept on the council tax, and a share of business rates.

The Authority is committed to its ambitious plans to end preventable fire and rescue emergencies across the two counties while addressing funding challenges.

The Service provides 83 local fire stations across the two counties and employs about 2,000 staff, helping to keep a population of 1.7 million and several thousand visitors to our counties safe. On average, the Service attends about 16,400 incidents every year in addition to prevention activities. These include flooding, road traffic collisions, fires and other emergencies.

Over the past year, the Service has also increased its protection and prevention activities, making homes and businesses safer by preventing incidents before they happen.

Rebuilding projects to modernise Brixham and Plymstock fire stations have been started, while refurbishment at Wellington and Bridgwater stations will mean improved staff facilities.

Building work at Brixham is well progressed and it is planned to open in early 2021. The new station at Plymstock has received planning permission and building work is expected to start this winter.

Next year, the Service hopes to build even further on prevention and protection activities, continue investing in stations and new vehicles, and improve availability of fire engines by attracting more on call and wholetime firefighters into the Service.

Authority Chair Sara Randall Johnson said: “We have to set a budget by balancing the needs of the community with the amount of money we receive from the government and local residents.

“We want to make sure we give our communities the best service possible. We have ambitious plans to do this by focusing more on preventing incidents while making sure we have the right response available for when emergencies do happen.

“It’s important that people let us know which level of council tax is acceptable so that we can consider this when setting the level of council tax.”

The total cost of running Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue Service equates to approximately £43.91 a year per head of the population. The current charge is £88.24 a year for a Band ‘D’ property.

The Authority is seeking feedback about the level of council tax precept for the coming year and how satisfied you are with the service we provide, so please use this opportunity to have your say. You can complete it online or if you require this in another format please contact the Communications and Engagement Team on 01392 872347. This consultation finishes on 18 December 2020.