25th Sep, 2018

Fire chief hits out as West Mercia PCC takes case for takeover to Whitehall

Joshua Godfrey 12th Oct, 2017 Updated: 12th Oct, 2017

WEST Mercia’s Police and Crime Commissioner is pressing ahead with his controversial proposals to take control of Worcestershire’s fire service.

John Campion is submitting a full business case to the Government around taking on the governance of Hereford and Worcester and Shropshire Fire Services.

Under his proposals, which Mr Campion claims will save taxpayers £4million a year, the fire and rescue authorities would be disbanded and Mr Campion would assume the new role of Commissioner for Police, Fire and Crime.

The commissioner has said his proposals for a single governance body will improve local police and fire collaboration and efficiency.

The new role would see the commissioner responsible for holding Chief Fire Officers to account.

West Mercia Police and the two fire and rescue services would remain separate, individual organisations under the plans.

However the Police Commissioner’s plans have been met by some series opposition.

Last month, Worcestershire County Councillors unanimously backed a motion stating the proposals would not be in the interests of improving public safety or the economy, efficiency and effectiveness of the service.

A three month consultation was carried on the proposals which found 61 per cent of the 1,300 people who took part – out of a population of of 1.2million – backed the new proposal.

Mr Campion is now finalising his business case for the plans which he will then submit to the Home Office leaving it to a government minister to make the final decision.

Mr Campion said: “I promised I would listen to, and be guided by, our communities and that is what I am doing.

“If there is credible evidence that a change in governance would cost less, achieve more and has public backing, I cannot just ignore that. For those reasons I felt it was right to further develop these proposals, create a full business case and put it to government for their consideration.

“Enhanced collaboration between our emergency services must now be delivered to increase public safety.”

The chairman of Hereford & Worcester Fire & Rescue Authority, Councillor Roger Phillips, said: “We are disappointed the Police & Crime Commissioner wants to continue his takeover of the fire authorities in West Mercia against the wishes of the four principle local authorities, the two fire authorities and his own crime panel.

“We had hoped he would have worked with us on a more locally agreed process and timetable of collaboration in the interest of public safety and efficiency of public funds.”

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