Northamptonshire's fire chief pledges to pump more money into equipment and buildings

New equipment will be bought with the extra investment.
New equipment will be bought with the extra investment.

Money will be invested in Northamptonshire fire service buildings and equipment after years of council cuts, the fire commissioner has promised.

Stephen Mold has made the announcement is the fire service plan for the next three years, in which he criticised the cutbacks to the service made by Northamptonshire County Council which handed over the reins at the end of last year.

Mr Mold said that building up the service would take a while but he was determined to see it through.

He said: "The county council have performed the role of the Fire and Rescue Authority admirably in very trying financial circumstances. Nonetheless, the legacy I inherit is one of underinvestment in the service, both in terms of firefighting and in the necessary infrastructure such as buildings and vehicles that enable an effective service to be delivered.

"This legacy is not one that I can change overnight but is something that I will address over the life of this plan.

"I will, over time, begin to reinvest in the service to ensure that the performance of the organisation continues to go from strength to strength."

A background document to the new fire plan shows £22.6 million was transferred to his office along with the

Mr Mold said paid tribute to firefighters and fire service staff, saying they had done an "amazing job" in keeping the public safe through years of cuts.

His first priority now, Mr Mold says, is to stabilise the budget of fire and rescue, stopping "the further cuts that would have been inevitable within the county council environment."

He added: "I will also begin to invest in the necessary capital programme to ensure that the equipment and buildings that firefighters use to keep [the public] safe is fit for purpose."

Mr Mold will also be working with the Chief Fire Officer Darren Dovey and the Chief Constable of Northamptonshire Police Nick Adderley on closer working between the services.

Mr Mold says: "Notably I intend to have a single estates strategy for the two organisations, wish to see a joint enabling services covering aspects such as finance and human resources.

"I also wish the two chiefs to bring forward operational opportunities to better share information and deliver services to the communities we all serve."

In a statement, Mr Mold added: "The Fire & Rescue plan represents a vision for the service over the next few years. We recently asked the public for their views on the plan and more than 1,000 people responded to the consultation.

“The first priority is a three-year programme to put the Fire Service on a stable financial footing, preventing further cuts and using this year's council tax precept to support the creation of a reserve and to establish a capital programme that will allow the service to invest in the future.

“As we go through this programme, it will be for the Chief Fire Officer to identify the operational priorities for investment to ensure that the Service is well equipped and able to continue to keep the people of Northamptonshire safe.”