PLANS to create a combined fire authority for the Isle of Wight and Hampshire have been pushed back by a year.

The Isle of Wight councillor responsible for the fire service said the government's decision was 'disappointing.'

The new authority, which will be responsible for fire and rescue services on the Island and in Hampshire, including Portsmouth and Southampton, was due to go live in April, 2020.

However, due to unforeseen pressure on home office policy and legal resource, the date has been pushed back to April, 2021.

The FBU previously said it 'reluctantly' supported the plan as it was considered the only way to protect jobs and fire stations.

Chief fire officer Neil Odin said: “We remain totally focused on delivering this important initiative and will now need to review the programme plan we have recently constructed together.

“The additional 12 months that this will run for will provide an opportunity for us to more closely align our services in advance of the combined fire authority going live than was otherwise going to be possible.

“The project plans will now be changed to meet the needs of our new timeline.”

Members of the Hampshire and Isle of Wight Combined Fire Authority programme team met with government officials recently to discuss changes to the timeline previously given by them.

They confirmed the original ‘go live’ date was no longer possible.

The plans to combine the services were approved by the Isle of Wight Council cabinet in January.

At that time, cabinet members said the move would provide access to more resources across both counties and further improve what was already an excellent service.

Cllor Tig Outlaw, cabinet member for public protection, said: “Although this delay by government is disappointing, we will use the extra time wisely to ensure everything is in place to go live in April, 2021.

“The decision to move towards a combined fire authority will bring us even closer together, making us more resilient, alongside the other operational benefits it will bring.”

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