AMBITIOUS plans to merge the South East’s fire services look to have been scrapped after a senior Oxfordshire councillor raised concerns.

Among the proposals were plans for a single fire service which could mirror the boundaries of Thames Valley Police and a single fire service covering the whole of the South East.

But county councillor Rodney Rose, the deputy leader of Oxfordshire County Council, raised concerns about the proposals and said they have now effectively been dropped.

He said: “It is my absolute belief that Oxfordshire cannot get better than we have got at the moment, so why should we dilute that?

“What we get from our fire service is fantastic and it is working for the people of Oxfordshire.

“It is them we should be working for.”

Oxfordshire Fire and Rescue Service is currently run by the county council. Mr Rose said this allows the service to work with the authority’s highways and public health departments to deliver a more comprehensive service.

The merger ideas were considered last week by the South East Fire Improvement Partnership Board. A report to the board said public sector savings combined with a changing demand for fire and rescue services called for the way services work together to be re-examined.

Following the meeting in London on Thursday, the nine councils which make up the board agreed to go away and produce a summary of the various ways they are collaborating with other services.

Mr Rose said the board does not have the power to impose anything on any one member fire authority, and the ambitious merger proposals are now effectively off the table.

He said: “I have to say it was mainly me fighting against it. I managed to convince the other eight authorities that we didn’t really have consensus.

“I don’t think anything will go forward except finding better ways of saving money through co-operation, which is what we are doing anyway.”

Oxfordshire Fire and Rescue Service has 247 full-time firefighters and 352 on-call volunteers.

Since 2012 it has had a combined control room with the Royal Berkshire Fire Service.

Performance indicators show Oxfordshire Fire and Rescue prevented 56 people from dying in 2012/13 against its target of 36.

In the same period there were 873 significant fires in Oxfordshire, which was a reduction of 14 per cent on the previous year and below the target of 1,001.

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