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ACC CALLS FOR INCREASED FIRE FUNDING

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The Association of County Councils says the fire service is still facing significant cash problems in 1997/98 despi...
The Association of County Councils says the fire service is still facing significant cash problems in 1997/98 despite a government cash injection.

After bowing to public pressure the government is putting another£52m into the service next year. But that is still£12m short of what the brigades need just to maintain the service, warns the ACC. It says it will cost brigades 5 per cent more next year - about£64m - just to stand still.

And instead of letting brigades increase their capital spending by the extra£85m they need next year, the Government is slashing their current capital allocations by 10 per cent. The money pays for new fire stations, buying and maintaining fire engines and other safety equipment.

'Although the increase is welcome, it does not go far enough in helping brigades to cope with all the financial pressures they are facing,' says Mick Warner, fire committee chairman.

'By slashing their capital programmes the Government is making it very difficult for brigades to repair and replace the equipment they need to save lives.

At best, the Government is storing up problems for the future. At worst the cut will severely hamper our ability to keep equipment at the ready in a good working condition.

'What that means for firefighters and the public is more equipment spending more time out of service needing repairs. We fear the cut could have serious consequences for public safety.'

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