Members of Cambridgeshire and Peterborough’s Fire Authority say they are “hugely disappointed” with news that the county’s police and crime commissioner has been given the go-ahead to take over as head of the fire service.
The Government announced today (Monday) that Jason Ablewhite, the county’s police commissioner, was free to add the running of Cambridgeshire Fire and Rescue Service to his remit.
The decision comes almost a year after the idea was first mooted by the commissioner, and was met with strident criticism from the fire authority, from whom Mr Ablewhite will assume control.
Councillor Kevin Reynolds, chairman of the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Fire Authority, said: “I know I speak for the whole fire authority when I say that we are hugely disappointed with today’s announcement. All along we have genuinely believed that the business case contained insufficient evidence to prove the case for what is going to be a costly and unnecessary change in governance arrangements and reduce public accountability for what is one of our most efficient and effective public services.
“We will take time to look at the findings of the independent report in detail and meet with leaders of Cambridgeshire County Council and Peterborough City Council, who also opposed the recommendation in the business case, to discuss our next steps.”
Mr Ablewhite has said he will now become the ‘police, fire and crime commissioner’.
He said: “Cambridgeshire Fire and Rescue Service do a vital job saving lives both through their prevention work, tackling fires and through their many other important roles.
“The changes announced today will focus on how the fire service is governed and I look forward to working with the fire authority to ensure a smooth transition of responsibilities.”
The exact date for transfer of responsibilities has yet to be agreed.
Minister for Policing and the Fire Service, Nick Hurd said: “It’s great to see police and crime commissioners identifying opportunities to drive greater collaboration between police and fire – there is a real opportunity to improve the services provided to local people.
“The proposals will encourage joint working, sharing of best practice and innovative thinking.
“Having a directly accountable leader overseeing both policing and fire will also help maximise available resources and drive transformation across both services. I look forward to seeing the benefits this will bring to the local areas.”