West Mercia police and crime commissioner (PCC) John Campion will submit a full business case to the Home Office to take over the governance of the local fire services following a successful "listening" public consultation.
PCC John Campion: I
promised to listen
If approved, Hereford and Worcester Fire Authority and Shropshire and Wrekin Fire Authority will be scrapped and their functions brought under Mr Campion’s direction.
This will save the police and fire service around £4 million a year, the PCC has claimed.
Of the 1,300 respondents who took part in Mr Campion’s three-month consultation, 61 per cent supported his proposals to become police, fire and crime commissioner.
Independent experts also recommended he should provide governance for both Hereford and Worcester Fire and Rescue Service and Shropshire Fire and Rescue Service.
Mr Campion said: “I promised I would listen to, and be guided by, our communities and that is what I am doing. If there is credible evidence that a change in governance would cost less, achieve more and has public backing, I cannot just ignore that.
"For those reasons I felt it was right to further develop these proposals, create a full business case and put it to government for their consideration.
“I recognise that some people had raised concerns during the consultation, but I am confident those concerns have been addressed in the full business case. Enhanced collaboration between our emergency services must now be delivered to increase public safety.”
Despite his public backing, he has received some local resistance as Worcestershire County Council unanimously agreed that his proposed plans would not improve the economy, efficiency and effectiveness of the fire service.
Worcestershire Conservative County Councillor Paul Middlebrough insisted the decision was not “party political”, adding that there are much better ways to improve fire safety.
Labour County Councillor Andy Fry said Mr Campion’s initial business case was “poor, with gaps, holes and lack of detail”.
“We should keep the fire authority together, working with Shropshire, working with Telford and Wrekin and not being messed into the hole which the police and crime commissioner is becoming,” he added.
“That is a job and a half without devaluing the fire authority.”
A full business case is now being finalised and will be submitted to the Home Office, who will decide whether any changes to governance go ahead.