Increase represents an extra four pence a week to the average household.

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Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue Authority has increased its share of the council tax charged to rate payers in Devon and Somerset in a bid to help preserve the services long-term future.

The authority today (Friday) discussed its budget and agreed to set its share of the council tax at £73.92 for 2012/13 for Band D properties.

The increase represents an extra four pence a week or £2.15 for the year for the average household - an increase of three per cent compared to last year’s figure.

Authority chairman Councillor Mark Healey said: “This decision is about preserving the long term future of the fire and rescue service. People have said to us, don’t make cuts to the fire service, and we have listened to what they had to say.

“By taking the short term gift from the Government this year, we would be in an even worse position next year, and would be asking the public for a much larger increase.”

The authority will not be eligible for the government’s one-off council tax freeze.

By raising council tax the authority has generated an additional £2.6 million more than the grant would have provided by 2015.

Chief fire officer Lee Howell said: “There will be increasingly difficult decisions to make as we move forward and we have to think over the longer term.”

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