Council discuss future governance of the county’s fire service
At yesterday’s full council (Wednesday 28 November) councillors agreed to work together to oppose the Police Crime Commissioner’s (PCC) plans to transfer governance of Gloucestershire Fire and Rescue Service (GFRS) from Gloucestershire County Council to the PCC.
This followed a meeting of the police and crime panel on 16 November where Councillor Dave Norman, lead cabinet member for public protection raised concerns with the PCC report. The motion was proposed by Cllr Dave Norman (Grange and Kingsway, Con) and seconded by Cllr Jeremy Hilton (Kingsholm and Wotton, Lib Dem). They agreed to urge the Home Secretary, Sajid Javid to reject the PCC’s plan.
Cllr Dave Norman, lead cabinet member for public protection, said: “Separating the fire service from the council would put at risk essential prevention work they deliver for the most vulnerable in our communities, work they are recognised nationally for. Our social care colleagues and fire fighters carry out 7,600 safe and well visits and provide a ‘first responder’ services for 500 people who benefit from the telecare service, which means they can live safely and independently at home. I am not willing to put this vital work at risk.
“We already benefit from a strong partnership with the police, through which we deliver a range of effective joint initiatives. My focus is on strengthening these arrangements, building ever stronger, more resilient and independent communities, not meddling with governance arrangements and wasting the time of the Home Secretary who has plenty on his plate at the moment.”
Cllr Jeremy Hilton, Liberal Democrat, Spokesperson for Fire and Rescue Service said: “It is highly disappointing that the Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) has not abandoned his plan to take over the fire service. The county council has been the fire authority for 44 years. Our fire service is well governed and does a great job of protecting the people of Gloucestershire. This doesn’t need changing. The PCC’s unwanted takeover bid is a distraction we just don’t need.”
Cllr Lesley Williams, leader of Labour and Green Co-Operative party, said: “The PCC’s plan does not represent a good deal for the county. It doesn’t stack up financially, there are no long term savings to be had, in fact more than £2.5m would need to be spent on establishing any new arrangements. Money better spent on delivering services.”