CONTROVERSIAL proposals which will see West Mercia’s Police and Crime Commissioner take over the running of the county’s fire service have been been given the green light by the Government.
Home Secretary Amber Rudd has rubber stamped John Campion’s plan to axe both the Hereford and Worcester Fire Authority and its sister group in Shropshire and bring their functions under his remit in a bid to save £4million a year.
Mr Campion will assume the role of Commissioner for Police, Fire and Crime, holding the Chief Fire Officers for both forces to account, while West Mercia Police and the two fire and rescue services will remain separate, individual organisations.
The commissioner said his proposals for a single governance body would improve local police and fire collaboration and efficiency but his plans attracted a storm of criticism from county councillors and fire chiefs especially in Shropshire who claim they had already identified £2million of savings in the next financial year.
“This represents a real opportunity to build safer communities, which are served by more effective, efficient emergency services,” Mr Campion said.
“The improvements I aim to deliver have been clear and consistent throughout this process and I will work tirelessly to make sure ‘potential’ benefits on paper, become realities.”
“Our Fire Authorities have laid good foundations to build from, for which we are all grateful. However, the change to single governance will enable new ways of working that will benefit our communities and our emergency services alike.
“It will ensure our services are sharing their resources, knowledge and expertise where it makes sense to do so. It will deliver a more efficient use of public money, and it will make sure more of that money is directed where it should be – towards the frontline services that we all value so much.”
Policing and the Fire Service Minister Nick Hurd said: “It’s great to see Police and Crime Commissioners identifying opportunities to drive greater collaboration between police and fire – there is a real opportunity to improve the services provided to local people. The proposals will encourage joint working, sharing of best practice and innovative thinking.
“Having a directly accountable leader overseeing both policing and fire will also help maximise available resources and drive transformation across both services. I look forward to seeing the benefits this will bring to the local areas.”