Cambridgeshire’s police and crime commissioner, Jason Ablewhite, has moved a step closer to taking on responsibility for the county’s fire and rescue service after it was agreed to develop a joint business case looking at closer collaboration between the two emergency services.
Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Fire Authority has agreed to work together with Mr Ablewhite to develop a business case to explore the best way both services can be managed in the future.
The commitment to work together was agreed at a fire authority meeting on Thursday.
The government is progressing with new legislation which will enable closer working between emergency services. The new legislation will introduce a duty to collaborate on police, fire, and ambulance services in order to improve efficiency and effectiveness.
The legislation will enable one of three options to be pursued:
• For police and crime commissioners to become responsible for fire and rescue services, where a local case is made.
• For police and crime commissioners to create a single employer for police and fire service staff, where a local case is made.
• For police and crime commissioners to have representation on their local fire and rescue service fire authority with voting rights, where the fire and rescue authority agrees.
While the legislation is passing through parliament, early discussions have been started between Mr Ablewhite, who remains a district councillor for St Ives, and the fire authority to explore the best way to take forward the opportunities arising from the legislation.
Mr Ablewhite, said: “Whilst the police, fire and ambulance already work closely together I believe there is more that could be done to ensure the front line of the services can be protected through greater collaboration that also represents best value for the taxpayer.”
Sir Peter Brown, chairman of Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Fire Authority, said: “Our local fire service is held in the highest regard by members of the public and it is important that its role continues to provide residents of Cambridgeshire and Peterborough with a trusted and respected service. We would hope that the fire authority will be able to continue its good work in providing a public link with the service in the future.”
In addition to the discussions, a joint working board has been established with senior representation from police, fire and ambulance services to look at the areas where collaboration could be possible. A number of areas have been prioritised to investigate further such as specialist equipment and skills, training, estates and managing vulnerable people.