COUNCILLORS will scrutinise changes to the Isle of Wight Fire and Rescue Service tonight (Tuesday).

The consultation on the plans to create a combined fire authority for the Isle of Wight, Hampshire, Portsmouth and Southampton will be discussed.

A consultation into the plans said: “The outcomes of the consultation exercise do not suggest significant public concern, or objection.”

The plans have been recommended for approval, with the report saying it will create a ‘stronger and safer’ service.

Members will also look at a government report, published in December, which said the service kept people safe but staff morale was low.

Speaking after the report was first published, Isle of Wight Council cabinet member for public protection, Cllr Tig Outlaw, said he was pleased the report had found the service to be safe.

He said: “We all want to have the best possible fire and rescue service for the Isle of Wight.”

The report found on the Isle of Wight, the firefighter cost per person, per year, was higher than the England national average — at £31.75 compared to £22.38.

The number of firefighters per 1,000 population was also higher, at 1.1 compared to 0.6 in the rest of England.

Concerns were also raised about potential bullying within the service, as well as domineering behaviour by managers.

Inspectors said they found examples of language that excluded women, and that more should be done for staff welfare.

Some premises were also found to not have the facilities to provide basic comfort and dignity — including inadequate changing facilities for retained firefighters.

Inspectors said: “Staff feel the council is more concerned with access to fire stations rather than the facilities within them.”

The service was found to not have reliable arrangements in place for supporting staff who experienced traumatic or disturbing incidents.

Care progression was seen to not be actively managed, and those in the workforce had little confidence they would be treated fairly, or that senior leaders had their best interests at heart.

Inspectors recommended the service put in place an open and fair process to identify, develop and support high-potential staff and aspiring leaders.

In the last five years, the Island has seen a 13 per cent drop in workforce — in line with the England average of 14 per cent.

Inspectors judged stations on three criteria — effectiveness, people and efficiency — each with different sub-categories.

The scrutiny committee will discuss the report tonight, at 5pm, at County Hall.