Minister tells councils to work with PCCs on fire service reform by Shaun Moore | Gloucester News Centre - http://gloucesternewscentre.co.uk/
The question of who runs the fire service in future moved closer to a resolution yeserday aftenoon when Policing and Fire Service Minister Brandon Lewis told councils they must discuss the issue with their local Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC).
Emergency services collaboration was among the items being discussed on the second day of the Association of Police and Crime Commissioners (APCC) and National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC) Partnership Summit at the Queen Elizabeth ll Centre in Westminster.
Gloucestershire’s Fire and Rescue Service is run by the county council. PCC for Gloucestershire, Martin Surl, said he hoped Mr. Lewis’ intervention would at last open up a dialogue with Shire Hall which had so far been unforthcoming.
Mr. Surl, who was sharing a platform with Mr. Lewis at today’s conference, said: “It’s unlikely any PCC came into office wanting to be fire commissioner. It was certainly not my ambition. But when you consider the benefits we’ve seen in terms of openness, accountability and transparency in respect of the police service, if that can be applied to the fire service then it is an opportunity we should explore.
“In areas similar to Gloucestershire, where I am Commissioner, where police and fire share the same geographical foot print; where our headquarters are on the same compound; our control rooms are divided only by a glass wall and the chief fire officer already leads on one of my key priorities, I think I have a duty to explore what further benefits could be had.
“Undoubtedly, in many areas fire services are well run, but we as PCCs are being given the mandate by the Government to investigate and put the local case for or against change. To do that we need an honest and open discussion about what benefits reform may or may not have.
“I call on the minister to direct the current budget holders of fire to work with me and others to provide sufficient information for that assessment to be made. The guiding principle has to be what is the best approach to providing the best possible fire service for the public whilst securing its long term financial stability.
“I think the public do find it unacceptable that in 2016 when they call 999, the first question they are asked is what service do you require rather than how can we help. The outcome can sometimes be three uncoordinated responses to the same incident. That cannot be right”.
As home secretary, the Prime Minister Theresa May signaled her intention to give PCCs responsibility for fire services to bring ‘greater accountability’. The Policing and Crime Bill, which would give PCCs responsibility for fire services, is currently making its way through Parliament.
This was the second annual conference of senior leaders and experts from across UK law enforcement, criminal justice and government to discuss and shape solutions to the key questions of the day.
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