FIRE chiefs in Cheshire say they are confident they can continue to protect Knutsford and the wider area, despite major cuts in their Government funding.

At a meeting of Cheshire Fire Authority this week, members were told they will lose nine per cent of their Government funding in 2013-14 and a further six per cent the following year.

The cuts mean they will have to make savings of nearly £6 million over the next four years.

However, the authority has agreed to limit any increase in its council tax level next year to under two per cent.

Chief Fire Officer Paul Hancock told the meeting that the proposals for the future would see the service building some new fire stations, keeping virtually the same number of fire engines but bringing in different staffing arrangements.

As a result of the authority’s consultation that ran until last month, the only changes in Knutsford will see a change to the current day crewing duty system to an ‘on-call’ system.

The authority will be using a one-off £4.5 million capital grant it won from the Government to start the building work on the new stations so there will be no impact on its day-to-day revenue budget.

Clr John Joyce, chairman of the fire authority, said: “I am pleased that despite the severe cuts in our Government funding we have been able to limit any increase to under two per cent as we appreciate the difficult circumstances facing many of our residents.

“It still means making major savings from our budget over the next few years, but I believe the far-reaching plans we also signed off yesterday ensure we will be able to provide the first class fire and rescue service our communities deserve – and make efficiencies.

“To provide the wide range of safety and emergency response services we do for £1.30 a week for an average household represents good value for money. I’m also pleased that we do not intend closing any stations, nor do we expect to make any firefighters redundant.”