A decision on whether to back the merger of the county’s fire service with the Dorset service will not be made by Wiltshire Council until the autumn.

Councillors heard a presentation by the service’s new chairman Chris Devine on Tuesday. Cllr Devine took over as chairman of the Wiltshire and Swindon Fire Authority after the resignation of Trowbridge councillor Graham Payne, who claimed he had lost the support of the board.

The money-saving merger is one of three options outlined in a consultation, launched on July 21 to give people a say on the future of the fire service in Wiltshire.

The other two involve the services remaining separate and working more closely with Wiltshire Council, Swindon Borough Council and other 999 services.

Cllr Devine said: “We face difficult financial times ahead that result from cuts to our central Government grant.

"We have cut back on everything apart from the operational services and we have reached the point where there is nothing else left to cut. Yet over the next two years the Government have said we can expect future cuts.

“We started with seven options and got that down to three, and are asking the people of Wiltshire what they think.”

Following the presentation, Cllrs Jeff Osborn and Terry Chivers put forward a motion asking the council to declare its support for the merger. However, the council decided to defer discussing this until its next full meeting on October 21: the consultation period ends on October 20.

To find out more about the consultation, visit www.wiltsfire.gov.uk/strengtheningourfrs