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Authority questions plans for Police and Crime Commissioner to take on responsibility for governing fire service

Plans for the Police and Crime Commissioner to take over the governance of fire service in Lichfield and Burntwood may not deliver savings or improve efficiency, according to a draft report.

A Staffordshire Fire and Rescue Service engine

A Staffordshire Fire and Rescue Service engine

Members of the Staffordshire Fire and Rescue Authority will discuss the proposals at a meeting on Thursday (August 24).

But a draft response to the PCC plans has questioned the value of changing the current model. At presentation, Staffordshire Fire and Rescue Service is governed by 21 councillors who sit on the authority board.

And they say the case for change has not been proven.

The draft report says: “The authority has taken the opportunity to meet with the Commissioner and to ask him questions on the contents of the business case together with the chief executive of the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner and the Chief Constable for Staffordshire.

“The authority fully understands and recognises the obligations created by the statutory duty to collaborate contained within the Policing and Crime Act 2017, and already has established much in the way of collaborations and partnership working within the ‘blue light’ sector and beyond.

“The authority is of the view that the business case does not provide an evidence based case for a change to governance.”

The proposals had suggested savings could be made by combining the governance structure.

But the fire authority report has cast doubt on this. It explains: “The basis upon which savings have been estimated has not been properly costed and there remains the possibility that any changes may result in an increase in costs over time rather than a decrease.

“In terms of efficiency there is no evidence on which to base the assertion that the pace of warranted change will accelerate if the governance model is introduced.

“It is clear that, for any change to be sanctioned by the Home Secretary, an evidence based business case must be presented for consideration and the authority suggests that, as the proposal does not contain any or sufficient evidence upon which a change could be sanctioned the proposal should fail.”

Matthew Ellis

Matthew Ellis

Staffordshire Police and Crime Commissioner Matthew Ellis had previously said he “broadly supported” an independent report suggesting the two emergency services could be brought under a single governance structure.

Speaking when a consultation was launched earlier this year, he said: “It is important our police can adapt to changing crime in an ever more complex world and that our fire and rescue service expands the expertise and specialisms they have developed around the prevention of harm in addition to their core responsibilities.

“From a practical point of view, I want more of the overall budget both services have to go towards frontline operations in local areas across Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent.

“Part of achieving that would be to bring the support and administration functions that each service currently has into a combined function both would use. It would free up at least £3million every year to support frontline services and provide helpful consistency in order to work better together.

“I broadly agree with the independent report’s findings and also think aligning governance will bring certainty and stability for the longer term for both services.”

The online consultation on the proposals closes on September 4.

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1 Comment

  1. The Scribbler

    21st August, 2017 at 6:10 pm

    “It would free up at least £3million every year to support frontline services…”
    Would it though?
    Really?
    The only benefit I can see is for the Commissioner and his deputy to cement their position as “Top Tories”.

    I fully accept I’m biased though as I think PCC concept is a diabolically bad one that should never have become a reality.