In December 2010 West Sussex County Council and East Sussex Fire Authority jointly announced they had agreed to examine options for closer collaboration between the two Fire & Rescue Services in East and West Sussex.
All public services are facing financial pressures, and both Services committed to seek ways to minimise the potential impact on fire stations and other frontline services.
From December 2010 both Services began developing a business case to explore whether greater collaboration between the two would protect essential services, make financial savings through shared support functions and management posts, and improve operational resilience. All options for collaboration were considered up to, and including, a full combination under a single Fire Authority for Sussex.
The advice of similar organisations is also being sought in order to help determine how we can continue to serve our local communities' democratic needs - as well as the best way to continue to deliver high quality services at a price local council taxpayers can afford to pay.
Progress on preparations towards a jointly prepared business case was separately presented to the West Sussex County Council Cabinet and East Sussex Fire Authority for consideration in March 2011. Both organisations agreed there is merit in pursuing increased collaboration or a full merger and that work on developing a full business case for further consideration should continue.
On July 1st 2011 East Sussex Fire Authority and West Sussex County Council announced their plans to hold a twelve-week public consultation, after the business case concluded that a merger is the best option to protect community fire & rescue services from the expected impacts of government grant reductions over the next few years.
The business case had also concluded that a full merger would improve operational resilience and overall capacity to the collective benefit of local residents, businesses and visitors alike across the whole of Sussex and the City of Brighton & Hove.
The twelve-week public consultation on the proposed merger of East and West Sussex Fire & Rescue Services started on July 14th and finished on October 6th. Both organisations encouraged as many people as possible to take part and have their say.
Feedback from the consultation will now be considered before a final decision is made in 2012. A Full Report of the Independent Joint Report of the Consultations, as well as an Executive Summary, is available to read via the links on this page.