“Firefighters to be trained as police officers for seven Devon towns”

Firefighters are already trained as first medical responders in many towns – now they will be fire/medical/police officers. Hope they get the salary increases that go with the extra responsibilities …..

And, no, it isn’t an “innovative project” as Ms Hernandez suggests – Owl believes it’s a cover-up for too few firefighters, paramedics and police officers.

“This innovative police and fire collaboration project is being funded by Devon and Cornwall’s police and crime commissioner Alison Hernandez who hopes it will improve access to the emergency services for communities in Devon.

The seven community responders have been recruited into locations where there is a need based on risk, vulnerability and harm – Cullompton, Crediton, Dartmouth, Honiton, Okehampton, Newton Abbot and Totnes.

Ms Hernandez has committed funding for an initial two years covering recruitment and ongoing training costs with the possibility of extending further. It forms part of her commitment to improving collaboration between the emergency services.

“I’m incredibly pleased to be able to support this collaboration. We don’t know what future funding will look like for any of our emergency services and working together on unique projects like this will improve the service both organisations can deliver to people in Devon.” said Ms Hernandez.

“I look forward to seeing the benefits that our communities will reap from this innovative work.” …

https://www.devonlive.com/news/devon-news/firefighters-trained-police-officers-seven-2521123

Devon Chief Constable: “thin blue line broken”

“The chief constable of Devon and Cornwall says the thin blue line of British policing is broken and lives in the two counties are more at risk than ever because of financial cuts.

Shaun Sawyer is supporting a proposal to increase the police council tax precept to fund 85 more police officers, but also said he would still be left with nearly 600 fewer than he had nine years ago. The force currently has just under 3,000 officers.

Mr Sawyer said the most vulnerable were at risk from the government’s decision to slash police budgets in 2010 and officers saw the “effects of those cuts every day”…

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/live/uk-england-devon-47030320

“Police force that axed PCSOs takes on zero-hours ‘scene guards’ “

“A police force that axed all its uniformed community support officers is hiring casual workers on zero-hours contracts to perform some of their duties.

Norfolk police are taking on a bank of “scene guards” to watch over crime scenes for £10 an hour. It is believed to be the first force in the country to take such a radical step, which critics say is policing on the cheap.

Labour said it was a sign of how far police forces were being stretched by government cuts.

Norfolk police say they believe it is the best way of getting value out of the resources they have. Those being recruited could be former police officers or people who have worked in the military.

Last year Norfolk eliminated its police community support officers, a decision that affected 150 people. The force said the money spent employing them had risen to the point where they cost almost the same as a fully trained police officer.

The more than £1m saved has been partly used for more police officers, who have wider powers, while some of the money will go to scene guards, who will be paid as and when they are required.

The advert for the role says duties will include “preserving the integrity of the crime/incident scene, detailing all persons entering/leaving the scene” and “dealing with enquiries from the public and media”.

Applicants need a set of skills including “ability to maintain concentration for prolonged periods” and it helps if those applying have “experience of working with confidential and sensitive information … experience of working in a police environment or similar … ability to problem-solve” and “experience of dealing with confrontation”.

Pay is £10.01 per hour and applicants must be free to stand guard four times a year at least. The advert also said: “Hours of work are on an ad hoc basis in line with the spontaneous nature of the policing environment. This post is offered on a casual (zero hour) basis.” …”

https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2019/feb/07/police-force-that-axed-pcsos-takes-on-zero-hours-scene-guards

Greendale owner 30th most influential Devonian

Our old friend Karime Hassan (CEO Exeter City Council) is in 19th place, Steve Hindley (Chair,Local Enterprise Partnership) is 18th, Alison Hernandez (Police and Crime Commissioner) in 12th place, John Varley (CEO, Clinton Devon Estates) in 9th place, with Devon County Council’s CEO Phil Norey in 2nd place and DCC Leader John Hart in first place.

“30. Rowan Carter, Director Greendale Group

The company behind the Greendale Farm Shop and Waterdance fishing fleet, incorporates a diverse range of businesses. From its beginning as a farming enterprise set up by the Carter family more than 150 years ago, the group includes the farm shop, Waterdance Fishing, Greendale Living, Greendale Business Park, Greendale Haulage, Exmouth Marina and Greendale Leisure. Last year, the Carter family unveiled major expansion plans for the Greendale Farm Shop to create 30 jobs and provide ‘significant benefits’ to East Devon.

The family has also made a £5million commission of two new fishing boats, including the largest beam trawler to be launched under the British flag in over 20 years. The company also wants to build more agricultural buildings and intends to acquire more farmland in order to expand its farming business.”

https://www.devonlive.com/news/business/50-most-powerful-people-devon-2450702

Failed police merger cost £250,000

Owl says: A quick check of the members on the police oversight committee’s views first might have saved a lot of money!

“Devon and Cornwall Police Commissioner Alison Hernandez confirmed that the project to explore a potential merger had cost the two forces £200,000.

That was split on a 70:30 basis between her force and Dorset’s, with the Home Office providing an additional grant of £50,000.

Questions about the cost of the abandoned merger were raised after Dorset’s Police and Crime Commissioner Martyn Underhill said directly it had cost about £500,000 when he appeared at the Dorset County Council Safeguarding, Overview and Scrutiny Committee.

The figure for the move preparations was later revised by Mr Underhill’s office.

But both police and crime commissioners’ offices have now confirmed the total figure was £250,000.

[Hernandez said] The two police forces have a combined budget of well over £4m and employ more than 7,000 people, so it was right and proper that we explored in detail the implications of a potential merger on them and, importantly, the public that they serve.” from Alison Hernandez Police and Crime Commissioner for Devon and Cornwall”

The two police forces have a combined budget of well over £4m and employ more than 7,000 people, so it was right and proper that we explored in detail the implications of a potential merger on them and, importantly, the public that they serve.”

Ms Hernandez stopped the merger plans in October, saying at the time there would not be enough benefit to communities in Devon and Cornwall to justify a resulting increase in council tax.”

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/live/uk-england-devon-46864649

Local authority settlement fails to address major funding issues and shortfalls

AND government has said if councils need more money they should hold referendums which might, or might not, agree to further council tax rises to make up for the shortfall.

“Last week’s provisional settlement for local government was predictably disappointing, says Richard Harbord, while the big issues of funding social care and council tax reform wait unaddressed in the political long grass.

The delayed settlement was eventually published last week, leaving local authorities little time to do any detailed work on it before Christmas.

It has to be said it was never going to be earth-shattering, being the last year of an agreed multi-year settlement negotiated four years ago.

The actual settlement says that the government are planning to increase resources by £1.3bn next year, but this seems to include a number of separate issues such as Winter Pressures Funding for social care, the bulk of which comes with conditions, and the removal of the threat of negative grant.

The Local Government Association in a somewhat low-key response says that this settlement will still leave local authorities some £3.2bn short of the resources they require to maintain a reasonable standard of service.

Other announcements were expected at the same time but a number of these did not appear. The amount of time and energy spent on leaving the European Community has left a large void in moving forward to resolve the many problems local government faces.

There was a consultation paper on business rate retention, but this has been so long discussed in the joint working parties between central government and the LGA that it is hardly new. It is now set at 75%, this is somewhat less than Eric Pickles’ 100% and the various other figures talked about over the last few years, and is perhaps a disappointing increase on the 50% which has been the scheme for the last few years.

The announcement says that the government continues to work on the Fair Funding Formula which was also expected to go out to consultation. This was never intended to take effect next year, but local authorities need to know if there are to be major changes to distribution and to account and allow for them in their medium-term financial plans.

We had already been warned that perhaps the most important of all – the options for dealing with the increasing expenditure on social care – had been put back until next Summer. This was, it will be remembered the subject of a bungled announcement during the last general election campaign which had to be withdrawn with a Green Paper promised for immediately after the vote.

This has been delayed several times. It is just too difficult to find options that are acceptable to the majority. If there is to be a central funding solution rather than an insurance solution, it will have to come from additional taxation. Politicians continue to believe that increases in taxation are to be avoided at all costs but a relatively small increase in taxation could produce workable options.

The LGA urges the government to reconsider and to improve the offer by the time of the final settlement early next year. This is extremely unlikely to happen.

The fact is that this settlement does nothing to help local authorities become sustainable and to save them from having to make even more serious cuts in services going forward.

Business rates retention may have been sorted, but the government really needs to address the issue of council tax. Hopelessly outdated and not understandable to owners of properties, it is in desperate need of reform.

The government argue that it is open to local authorities to run referendums to increase council tax by over 3 % , indeed they have encouraged local authorities to do so but the limited gains and negative publicity have put authorities off.

At the very least the values used need to be current values and the banding system needs drastic revision to reflect the fact that so many properties are valued at over £1m and should be contributing more to local services.

We do now look forward to the spending review, but there cannot be widespread optimism that all will be well.”

http://www.room151.co.uk/blogs/provisional-settlement-does-nothing-to-help-local-authorities/

Top police chiefs cream off cash

“Police chiefs are enjoying a pay and pensions bonanza as council tax is hiked to give their forces an extra £1billion, a Daily Mail investigation reveals today.

Almost two thirds of chief constables from the 39 English police forces earned more than the Prime Minister’s annual pay of £150,402 last year.

They also received an additional total of at least £1.37million in pension contributions in the last two years – with some getting more than £40,000 a year.

This is despite only half receiving a contribution last year, with many of the others’ pension pots thought to have reached the maximum threshold. ”

Tens of thousands of pounds more of public money was also spent on private healthcare, housing and car allowances for senior officers – with one police chief’s package worth nearly £300,000. …..

Police pension schemes include a taxpayer-funded employer contribution of 21.3 per cent of their pay, on top of an officer’s contribution. Ian Hopkins, chief constable of Greater Manchester Police, who has received £92,000 pension contributions over the past two years – as well as a £200,000 salary – claimed the squeeze would force him to cut his officer numbers to the lowest level since 1975. …..

A Home Office spokesman said: ‘It is for the independent Police Remuneration Review Body to consider the appropriate levels of police pay and make recommendations to ministers.’”

https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-6498233/Police-chiefs-enjoy-pay-pensions-bonanza-council-tax-bills-rise.html