ESSEX: Fire stations to carry advertising in effort to raise cash

ESSEX fire stations could soon be branded with advertising in a bid to raise much needed funds for the service.

In a meeting held yesterday to discuss revenue generation plans, the Essex Fire Authority have proposed to erect

48 billboards measuring 20 ft by 10ft throughout fire stations in the county. It could also extend to advertising on appliances and station sponsorship if the plans are approved.

The Authority claim the project will allow the Service to generate income in a relatively short space of time without huge financial outlay and collect a 30 per cent revenue share of net profits from all billboard sites sold after posting and production costs.

Sites could expect to attract advertising from insurance companies, high street retail chains, mobile phone providers and film companies promoting upcoming films.

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But the Authority said no advertising would conflict with the ‘ethos of the business,’ with no alcohol and tobacco advertising, which might be seen to compromise the Service’s efforts in promoting its healthy message.

The news comes as public services face increasing pressure to capitalise on their assets and maximise commercial opportunities to create revenue.

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Essex Fire Authority said roadside advertising offers a cost-effective, highly visible advertising message and currently there is a lack of billboard sites in the county.

Basildon drill tower is already in demand with the Service receiving offers from companies to ‘buy’ the site on a long-term basis.

Colchester, Southend, Maldon and Kelvedon Park have also been identified as attractive sites, subject to planning permission.

For stations in residential areas there is the possibility to have smaller boards similar to those seen at bus stops or outside supermarkets.

Public reaction has so far been positive with 70% saying they would support the idea of advertising and sponsorship at fire stations in a recent public transformation survey carried out on 1,500 people.

Deputy Chief Fire Officer Gordon Hunter said: “We are an innovative fire service and as such instead of wringing our hands despairing at the cuts to our budget we are exploring innovative ways of raising revenue to maintain our high standard of service.

“We will now create a governance framework to ensure that all advertising adheres to strict ethical guidelines and does not go against the fire service ethos.

“The service will further explore the viability of the scheme before reporting our findings and the completed framework back to the Essex Fire Authority for final approval.”

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