Increase in fire service share of council tax for 2024/25 approved

THE share of council tax in Wiltshire and Dorset that goes to the fire service is to rise.

At a meeting on Thursday (February 8), the Dorset & Wiltshire Fire and Rescue Authority approved a budget of £73.9 million for 2024/25, including an increase of 2.99% in the council tax precept – the share of council tax bills that goes to the service.

The increase means the annual fire precept for a Band D property will be £86.95 for the fire and rescue service from April 1.

Chief Fire Officer, Ben Ansell, said: “Balancing the budget for 2024-25 has been extremely difficult and the service faces some significant financial challenges in the medium term.

“We are a lean fire and rescue service with a strong track record of performance, efficiency savings and ensuring value for money.

“However, we will need to look at a significant programme of work, based on our recent fire cover review and other data, to ensure we continue to serve the communities of Bournemouth, Christchurch, Poole, Dorset, Swindon, and Wiltshire in the most efficient and effective way possible.”

During the meeting, members also elected Cllr Paul Oatway as vice-chair of the authority, following the sad passing of Cllr Bob Jones in January.

Cllr Oatway is a member of Wiltshire Council and Councillor for Pewsey Vale West. He has been a member of the Fire & Rescue Authority since June 2017.

Cllr Rebecca Knox, chair of Dorset & Wiltshire Fire and Rescue Authority, said: “Members unanimously agreed that the 2.99% increase was the only viable option in the face of the ongoing financial uncertainty.

“We know that any increase is difficult for bill-payers, but our council tax level remains below the national average, and we believe strongly that our fire and rescue service provide excellent value for money.”

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