A MOVE to create a shared fire control centre for Oxfordshire and Berkshire was closer last night after a bid for £3.6m Government cash was accepted.

Fire minister Bob Neill yesterday said Oxfordshire and Berkshire Fire and Rescue Services could have the cash after a bid was submitted last November.

Yet the Oxfordshire branch of the Fire Brigades Union has warned the move could have disastrous results.

It argued response times could suffer if fewer staff were manning a control centre and if they did not have a good local knowledge of the area.

But the plans are still in early stages and no decisions have been made about staffing and location.

A final decision could be made in the summer.

Judy Heathcoat, the county council cabinet member responsible for the service, said: “I am very pleased that government have awarded the full grant funding, recognising the quality of the bid and the viability of the proposals.

“Detailed work can now be progressed to a single joint control function.

“Our focus is the continued provision of a cost-effective, more resilient and high-quality service to the public and our firefighters. We are fully committed to support our staff through this period of change.”