Fire authorities could merge

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Fire services in West and South Yorkshire could be merged to save money.

Plans to combine the forces have been put forward as one of a range of options.

South Yorkshire Fire Authority say the proposal may be “the best option” but its West Yorkshire counterpart say the plans have not gone beyond an “initial scoping” stage.

The two forces have cut about £20m from their combined budgets since 2011.

Judith Hughes, West Yorkshie Fire Authority chairman, said: “Until we know what’s happening with devolution there’s nothing on the table.”

The option of a South and West Yorkshire merger appears to have sprung from government proposals for police and crime commissioners to take on responsibility for fire services. Those proposals have been met with a very mixed response, including concerns funding would end up focused on policing.

A merger of the two brigades is seen as a potentially more palatable outcome but SYFA chairman Jim Andrews stressed no formal policy had been adopted and consideration was at an early stage.

He said: “We are having to look at everything, looking at all the options in front of us.

“We may even have to look at going in with the police though I honestly think that’s a step too far.”

The two forces already operate a joint control room system.