We are currently experiencing network problems with the desktop version of Police Oracle. We hope to have these resolved as soon as possible.

Councils reject APCC call to take over fire services

Councils have rejected calls from Police and Crime Commissioners to hand over control of fire services.

Councils will “strongly oppose” any proposals for Police and Crime Commissioners to take control of fire and rescue services.

England's most powerful council leaders made clear they won’t relinquish power or budgets to PCCs despite their claim to have government support.

The blunt warning came after the Association of Police and Crime Commissioners published a report arguing they were best-placed to improve services.

The report coincided with the start of a government consultation on oversight of fire services.

It argued the group of Police, Fire and Crime Commissioners (PFCCs) covering Essex, North Yorkshire, Northamptonshire, and Staffordshire are already delivering efficient services.

Philip Allott, the North Yorkshire PFCC who leads on emergency service collaboration for the APCC, said: “There are significant benefits and opportunities that the PFCC role offers to the public and to fire and rescue services.

“For example, we provide strong local accountability. Elected PFCCs are directly accountable to the communities we serve. We consult on local priorities, ensuring people have a real say on how fire and rescue services are run and delivered in their areas.”

He added: “We enhance public safety by enabling greater collaboration across bluelight services too. This can save money to be re-invested back into valuable front line services. It also allows PFCCs to explore ways police and fire can work together to protect vulnerable people.”

For the government, the fire service is the last unreformed part of the public services. The Fire Brigade Union is still a strong voice for frontline workers – having challenged governments including Tony Blair’s administration.

Lord Stephen Greenhalgh, Minister of State for Fire, said: “Through our forthcoming White Paper, we will consult on how governance in the fire sector can be improved, including expanding the role for Police and Crime Commissioners. I’m confident the PFCC model provides greater accountability, consistency, and transparency.”

But the consultation revisits a battle that met stiff resistance from councils – and included a legal challenge. It will also pitch the Home Office against the Communities department.

The County Councils – who are a significant power base within the Conservative Party – pressured local government ministers into refusing to even consider the idea.

The then-local government minister Brandon Lewis directly challenged at least one PCC.

And the counties made clear they weren’t changing their minds – with other authorities likely to follow.

Cllr Tim Oliver, Chairman-Elect of the County Councils Network, said: “The County Councils Network recognises that fire and rescue services require reform, but we are strongly opposed to the mandatory transfer of services to Police and Crime Commissioners (PCCs)

“The response to the pandemic has shown how vital the relationship is between councils and fire services. Existing arrangements have shown they are adept at closely integrating fire and rescue services to vital community safety and wider preventative services within their authorities, while demonstrating a track record in delivering value for money.”

He made clear the counties would lobby ministers to reject the idea.

“Local areas are therefore best placed to decide how local services should be delivered. Our member councils want to work with government and partners, including PCCs, to reform services, and we will be responding to the government white paper when published later this year,” he said.

Leave a Comment
View Comments 7
In Other News
National protests policing lead to be Staffs new chief constable
PCCs back call for huge investment in drug treatment
PCCs pitch for more control over local probation
Chiefs need more support say PCCs
PCC results in except Wiltshire which will need to be re-run
More News