FIRE stations could have their business rates waived to keep two-crew full time fire and rescue cover in the county.

The idea of such an unprecedented measure is now doing the rounds at Herefordshire Council's Brockington HQ.

Hereford and Worcester Fire and Rescue Authority (HWFRA) would save save some £36,000 on Hereford fire station alone if the waiver was implemented.

The overall saving in Herefordshire is estimated at around £145,000 toward a £767,000 savings target across the service as a whole.

Hereford City Council  already  faces a motion to put £50,000 towards full-time cover over the next two years and seen as a "down payment" on a referendum over the issue of full-time cover.

HWFRA  doesn't want that referendum with its estimated £300,000 cost on a budget plan that already bargains for extensive cuts.

But HWFRA member and Herefordshire councillor Jim Kenyon intends to pitch a referendum to the authority in October.

If successful, that motion would commit HWFRA to a public vote on raising the fire service precept beyond its present 2% cap.

Coun Kenyon has already raised the waiving of fire station business rates with Herefordshire Council  and put the £50,000 motion to Hereford City Council.

That £50,000 commitment was, he said, a test of what the council stood for.

The county will have two full-time fire crews on standby until next month at least.

In June, HWFRA deferred a decision on cutting full-time 999 cover out of Hereford fire station down to a single crew.

Thousands put their names to a petition launched by Hereford fire fighters to support a second crew.

Many of those to have signed said they were prepared to pay more in the council tax precept raised by the fire authority to keep current 999 cover.

Ledbury and Tenbury keep their two retained appliances while the stations at Leominster, Ross-on-Wye, Bromyard and Whitchurch stay as is.

HWFRA already accepts that the cuts will compromise response times, but, maintains that, with the retained crews, enough back up is in place.

As proposed, full-time fire and rescue fire cover at Hereford station would come down to a single appliance and no more than seven fire fighters on a shift.

Those seven - presuming all are present - would be the full-time 999 response for the whole county, including the manning of specialist appliances, with Malvern as the nearest full-time back-up.