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Lichfield’s MP has been branded “ill-informed” after calling for police and fire services in Staffordshire to be merged.
Michael Fabricant has backed Police and Crime Commissioner Matthew Ellis’ proposal to merge back office functions.
But he claimed he had “lost confidence” in the Staffordshire Fire and Rescue Authority (FRA_ – and said the building of a new fire station in Lichfield while removing one of the engines in the city showed savings needed to be made in different ways.
He said: “The FRA instead wish to preserve their own fiefdom at the cost of safety.”
But the FRA’s chairman, Cllr Len Bloomer, said Mr Fabricant was wide of the mark.
“The comments made by Mr Fabricant are ill informed, unfair and fail to recognise the significant achievements of both the fire service and the FRA,” he said.
“Staffordshire is one of the best performing fire and rescue services in the country and has been for a number of years. The top priority, both for the service and for the FRA, is to keep members of our communities and the firefighters that serve them, safe.”
Mr Fabricant said the savings made by joint administration could support front line services.
He added: “The replacement of one of the two main fire tenders with a smaller vehicle which is unsuitable for house fires or major road traffic accidents is a disgrace when reorganisation could have maintained the existing vehicles and full fire protection.
“The merging of back-office functions – as happens in other countries – could provide efficiency savings while enhancing firefighting capabilities.”
But Cllr Bloomer said the fire service had a proven track record of delivering more for less.
“All decisions made by the FRA on behalf of the people of Staffordshire are carefully considered and based on hard evidence,” he said. “The service has maintained a robust response capacity but the organisations also strongly believe that prevention is far better, as well as far safer and more cost effective, than cure.
“The service has continually delivered better outcomes with less money and fully intends to do so in the future. It has formed a number of highly successful collaborations with a wide range of organisations and will continue to build upon these partnerships for the benefit our residents.”