East and West Sussex fire services could merge

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EAST and West Sussex have moved a step closer to having one fire service covering both counties.

Fire authorities in the two regions are exploring ways of working together in order to prevent cuts to their front-line services.

Both have been told by the government to make large financial savings by April 2013, with West Sussex Fire and Rescue Service having to cut £2.5m from its budget.

The possibility of a merger between the two services was first announced in December last year, and now both fire authorities have asked for a full business case to be prepared on two options.

The first is extending existing co-operation between east and west, including sharing back office staff and functions. The other is a full merger of East Sussex and West Sussex Fire and Rescue Services, under a new combined fire authority to cover the whole of Sussex.

No decisions have been taken, but the business cases on these two options will be presented to each authority in June and a decision is expected shortly afterwards.