Oh, please NO! Police and Crime Commissioners can take over Fire and Rescue service

Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Fire Authority members have objected to plans from the area’s police and crime commissioner to take over its responsibilities.

Authority chair Kevin Reynolds said the commissioner’s proposal arose from a business case, which authority members had unanimously concluded “did not contain sufficient evidence to prove the case for what could be a costly and unnecessary change in governance arrangements”.
Members did though agree to offer a voting place on the fire authority to the commissioner.

Cllr Reynolds said one of the benefits cited by the commissioner for merging the services was better use of shared estates. “Evidence shows this collaboration is already happening not only between police and fire but also between fire and a whole range of public sector partners,” he said.
“The cost savings cited from a governance change in the business case also do not appear to have enough evidence behind them to support any change.
“We question whether a potential and unsubstantiated saving of £14,000 per year is a strong enough reason for wholesale change.”

Cllr Reynolds said the authority saw no “beneficial fit” with the police as they had “different cultures and accountabilities”.

Commissioner Jason Ablewhite had earlier cited new legislation enabling police and crime commissioners to take over fire and rescue services where they can make a case to do so.

He said PA Consulting had assembled a business case that showed “there are many advantages to be gained if I take on responsibility for governance of the fire service”.

Mr Ablewhite said: “My proposal is not a takeover of fire and rescue services, or a merger of the roles of police officers and firefighters. The distinction between operational policing and firefighting will be maintained.

“I believe that by taking over the governance arrangements from the council-run fire authority, I can provide greater accountability and transparency of both police and fire services and can maximise front-line resources and improve public safety.”