Below are two examples of the work Lib Dem Councillors have been doing to oppose Police and Crime Commissioners from taking over the local Fire and Rescue Services. The first is from Gloucestershire CC group in the shape of a press release and Council Motion which was subsequently passed by the council. The second is a press release from the Hereford and Worcester Group. If relevant, feel free to make use of these in your area.
Calls to keep county’s Fire Service in-house
LIBERAL DEMOCRATS will call for cross-party support in opposing plans by the Police and Crime Commissioner to take over the running of Gloucestershire’s Fire and Rescue Service.
At next Wednesday’s County Council meeting, Cllr. Jeremy Hilton (LD: Kingsholm and Wotton) will strongly defend the current governance arrangements of the county’s Fire & Rescue Service.
He will seek the support of members across all parties to reject any attempts to transfer the responsibility of the fire authority away from Gloucestershire County Council.
Commenting, Cllr. Hilton said: “Gloucestershire County Council has run our fire and rescue service since 1974 and it is regarded as one of the best if not the best in the country. Similarly, our fire service is very good value for money at only £34 per head of population to operate.
“It would be absurd to change the governance arrangements of such a good service on a whim. I very much doubt that it would bring much in the way of benefits and could instead severely damage the excellent collaboration that already exists between the blue light services based at the county’s Tri-Service Centre in Quedgeley.
“I am strongly opposed to the unnecessary tampering of any service that isn’t broke and doesn’t require fixing.
“I hope elected members across the chamber will support my motion and that with one voice we can send a strong message to the Police and Crime Commissioner, Martin Surl to leave our county’s fire and rescue service alone.”
Back in January, the Home Office announced that Police and Crime Commissioners such as Gloucestershire’s Martin Surl could make the case for taking responsibility for fire and rescue services. Mr Surl in March accepted £100K of government money in order to prepare a business case for possible takeover.
Former Liberal Democrat Shadow for Fire and Infrastructure, Cllr. Bernie Fisher (LD: St Paul’s and Swindon) who will be seconding the motion said:
“As I’ve said before there are fundamentally two questions here – one, will transition make it more efficient and less costly to run, and two, will it improve collaboration for better delivery of the service?
“My view hasn’t changed in that I very much doubt that such a move will satisfy either of these two questions.
“It is therefore a ridiculous move that should be strongly resisted by the entire Council.
“It is a service that now does so much more than putting out fires. To change such a valued and effective service would be foolish.”
Gloucestershire Fire & Rescue Service is part of the County Council and it manages other services such as Emergency Management, Trading Standards, Registrars, Coroners and the Road Safety Partnership. It now also provides co-responder services to support the ambulance service, targeted work (particularly around dementia), telecare responses (helping to keep people in their own homes) and has led on community resilience (Including Emergency Management and Trading Standards).
The motion to be discussed at Council on Wednesday 28th June 2017 is as follows:
Motion 796 – Gloucestershire Fire and Rescue Service
This Council notes that since its creation under new boundaries in 1974 it has been the fire authority with responsibility for governing and running a fire and rescue service in Gloucestershire.
This Council notes that the Police and Crime Act received Royal Assent on 31 January 2017 and that the Act allows for the Police and Crime Commissioner to take over the governance of a fire and rescue service within their locality.
This Council notes the Gloucestershire Police and Crime Commissioner has employed consultants to prepare a takeover bid for Gloucestershire Fire and Rescue Service.
This Council notes with pride that we have one of the most cost effective and innovative fire and rescue services in England, probably the best fire and rescue service in the country.
This Council believes that a change in governance would be disruptive to the good management of our fire and rescue service and its collaboration with other emergency services and public bodies.
This Council, therefore, agrees that it is better for Gloucestershire Fire and Rescue Service to remain under the governance of Gloucestershire County Council and agrees that all member should work together to oppose a transfer of the responsibility of the fire authority away from Gloucestershire County Council.
Proposed by Cllr Jeremy Hilton
Seconded by Cllr Bernard Fisher
Lib Dems Group Leader on Hereford and Worcester Fire and Rescue Authority condemns Police and Crime Commissioners’ undemocratic “Power Grab”!
Cllr Fran Oborski MBE, the Leader of the 2017 Liberal Democrat Group on the Hereford and Worcester Fire and Rescue Authority has condemned the bid by the West Mercia Police and Crime Commissioner to take over Fire and Rescue Services in Herefordshire, Worcestershire and Shropshire as an undemocratic “power grab”!
Speaking today, Cllr Oborski said; ” Currently Fire and Rescue Services are run by Councillors appointed by the constituent local authorities (Herefordshire and Worcestershire for the HWFRA and Shropshire and Telford for the Shropshire FRA) and are politically balanced; representing the political makeup of those authorities; this ensures that the views of all the communities served by those Authorities are heard.
“The idea that these 2 Authorities which bring together representatives of our very diverse rural and urban communities should be dissolved and replaced with a situation where all power will be placed in the hands of one single individual smacks of a “soviet” control style and will create an appalling democratic deficit!”
Our current Police and Crime Commissioner already also holds the position of Vice Chairman of Wyre Forest District Council and has appointed as his Deputy a fellow Conservative Wyre Forest District and Worcestershire County Councillor. What is more the majority of the “Community Ambassadors” who he has appointed are also serving Conservative Councillors.
This “power grab” proposal is going out to Public Consultation from today with the Police and Crime Commissioner claiming that it will save £4Million. As a long serving Member of HWFRA I challenge that claim and urge members of the public, community groups, local councils and other consultees to reject this appalling undemocratic power grab!