The county council has endorsed West Sussex Fire & Rescue Service’s Improvement Plan with more than £5.1 million of investment to be committed over the next three years.

The funding will help deliver improvements following a recent inspection report from Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services (HMICFRS).

The money will form part of the revenue budget year on year and will be used to make the changes sustainable for the fire and rescue service to allow them to deliver key improvements in staffing, equipment and training.

Today’s decision from the Cabinet Member for Safer, Stronger Communities, Debbie Kennard, follows scrutiny of the Improvement Plan and recommendations made at last week’s Environment, Communities and Fire Select Committee.

Debbie Kennard, West Sussex County Council’s Cabinet Member for Safer, Stronger Communities, said: “The fire service has the full backing of West Sussex County Council. We are committed to driving improvements across the service and providing additional funding to allow the fire and rescue service to make the improvements required.

“The endorsement of the Improvement Plan, backed by the £5.1 investment plan, shows how seriously we take the report’s findings.

“Together we will deliver the improvements outlined in the report by HMICFRS.”

The money will be split over the next three years, with county council to provide £1.8 million in the current financial year, £1.7 million next year and £1.6 million the year after.

Of that investment, £380,000 has already been provided to the fire service each year to address the immediate concerns that were raised by HMICFRS with the Chief Fire Officer in January 2019, which forms part of the £1.8m allocated for this year.

During the last four years the county council has invested almost £6 million in fire engines and other technical equipment, and invested £1 million in a new IT system as part of the Fire Control 2020 Programme. The inspection report highlighted the positive financial management of the service and confirmed its spending is in line with other authorities across the country.

The full decision report can be found here.