Fire engine

A portion of Lichfield and Burntwood council tax bills will rise by 1.99%.

Staffordshire Fire and Rescue Service Authority has approved a plan to raise its precept for a Band D property by 2.6p a week – equating to £1.35 a year.

Fire chiefs say the “modest” rise will allow them to continue to build on work which has seen the number of incidents drop by 33% in six years.

Chairman of the Fire and Rescue Authority Councillor Len Bloomer said: “We have worked very hard to bring the number of incidents occurring in Staffordshire to the lowest recorded levels in recent years and we are rightly proud of our achievements.

“This has been made possible due to the emphasis we place on prevention and protection being far better, and far cheaper, than cure.

“However, with a Government funding cut of £1.43million in the next financial year, we need to make up some of the shortfall in order to continue to provide the first-class service that our communities have come to expect and that they deserve.

“Even with this marginal increase, we continue to be a low cost authority in terms of per head of the population while maintaining our position as one of the best performing fire and rescue services in the country.”

The rise is expected to boost the fire service’s coffers by £452,000.

There have also been calls for bosses to look at combining some back office functions with other emergency services.

Cllr Bloomer added: “We are facing challenging financial times and as the Government continues its austerity measures, which have been implemented on a faster scale than envisaged, we are balancing the books in a careful and considered manner.

“We are also looking into all possible options for making further efficiency savings and are working closely with our partners to explore more collaboration opportunities.

“We are confident that the weekly increase will ensure that the safety of our residents and firefighters is not compromised.”

The rise comes in the wake of a decision by Burntwood Town Council to bump up its portion of council tax bills for its residents by more than a third.

Founder of Lichfield Live and editor of the site.