Fire chief pleads for funding help

Fire Chief Mark Jones
Fire Chief Mark Jones
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CUTS to the fire service in Buckinghamshire have prompted an appeal to business leaders to lobby the government for help.

Buckinghamshire Fire & Rescue Chief Fire Officer Mark Jones has written to more than 500 businesses urging them to write to their MPs.

In an open letter, Mr Jones questions why the fire service funding is being cut back, while business rates are rising.

He said: “I felt it was time to write to businesses in the area to share with them my concerns over the fact that the ever increasing share of the business rates they pay is making an ever-decreasing contribution to our services.

“We recognise the need to reduce costs, and Buckinghamshire Fire & Rescue Service has been doing so steadily over the last three years by reducing the number of managers and backroom staff.

“It also seems absurd to me that businesses which we aim to protect in our Fire Authority area should pay ever increasing taxes towards what might become an ever-decreasing resource – especially as the existence of a good fire and rescue response is very much in the interests of those business premises and the homes of the workers who are employed there.

“This service has a proud record of delivering high quality services at one of the lowest costs in England to the taxpayer.

“However, being low-cost and performing well doesn’t protect us from the cuts in grants that all public services are enduring.

“If financial restrictions placed upon us continue, there will come a time at which there is nowhere left to go but to cut emergency response services.”

Mr Jones is proposing that the business leaders write to their MPs, urging them to increase fire service budgets.