A fire service which has cut two engines and 32 firefighters has drafted in a £200,000 ‘transformation team’ to help make another £2 million of savings.

East Sussex Fire and Rescue Service’s (ESFR) new team will make bureaucratic savings, believed to be coming from finance, training, fleet maintenance and backroom operations.

It will be made up of an existing team of five people, three internal secondments and one external post.

At a meeting of the fire authority in Eastbourne yesterday, chief fire officer Des Prichard said: “The cost of the bureaucratic core to run this business is disproportionate to the size of the business.”

The service transformation team, which will be funded using ESFR reserves, has already been criticised.

Nancy Platts, a Labour Parliamentary candidate for Brighton Kemptown, said after the meeting: “I am absolutely shocked that they are going to spend £200,000 on a service transformation team rather than put that money towards maintaining frontline services.”

Simon Herbert, chairman of the East Sussex Fire Brigade Union, said: “Putting scarce funds into yet more back-office staff to reorganise our firefighters is wholly inappropriate at a time when we are losing a fire engine and 24 firefighters in Brighton and Hove.”

The near £2 million saving for the financial year 2019/20, is a worst case scenario in the event of a council tax freeze in 2015/16.

ESFR hopes its shortfall is nearer £1.7 million, providing a 1.94% council tax rise year on year.

ESFR is making £1.3 million of savings in the current financial year.

In July 2013, it identified the need to save an additional £7.1 million between 2014/15 and 2018/19.

This saving included the loss of fire engines from Brighton and Hastings and 32 firefighters, 24 from Brighton and 12 from Hastings.

The service still found itself out of pocket by £800,000.

Now it has identified the need to save a further £900,000 by 2019/20, a total of £1.7 million.