Fire authority to fight on despite losing judicial review that could see control of service handed to police commissioner

Chairman of the Fire Authority, Councillor Kevin Reynolds has said he is "disappointed" at the outco

Chairman of the Fire Authority, Councillor Kevin Reynolds has said he is "disappointed" at the outcome, which could see police commisioner Jason Ablewhite, right, take control of the fire service. Pictures: CONTRIBUTED - Credit: Archant

A judicial review, which saw the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Fire Authority challenge a Home Office decision to allow police commissioner Jason Ablewhite to take control of the fire service, has been unsuccessful.

But the county's fire authority is set to fight on despite the unsuccessful review, which has paved the way for Mr Ablewhite to take over running of the fire service.

Chairman of the fire authority, Councillor Kevin Reynolds, said: "I know I speak for the whole fire authority when I say that we are hugely disappointed with the outcome of the judicial review. We sought a judicial review as we believe the fire authority and fire and rescue service in Cambridgeshire work extremely well together as a governance model and no reason had been demonstrated to change that in either the business case, or the documentation we received from the Home Office to explain their decision to rule in favour of the police and crime commissioner.

"As a fire authority, we have always believed we have an efficient and effective fire and rescue service and since we sought the judicial review, the government-commissioned HMICFRS inspection has assessed us to be 'good' in efficiency and effectiveness. In fact, we are only one of two out of 30 fire services so far inspected by the HMICFRS to not get a single area that has been classified as requiring improvement. Surely that demonstrates that what we are doing and how we operate now is working well. I could understand it if we were poorly performing but we're not. We're one of the best fire and rescue services in the country but that doesn't seem to count for anything. It's all just so frustrating."

The outcome of the judicial review, which took place last month, was announced today (Monday), with the judge upholding the Home Office's decision to allow the police and crime commissioner to take over governance of Cambridgeshire Fire and Rescue Service from the fire authority.

The fire authority previously claimed the commissioner's business case was "flawed" and "no evidence had been presented that suggested the move would be beneficial".

The fire authority said that the business case contained "insufficient evidence", and said that it was going to be a "costly and unnecessary change in governance that reduces public accountability of the fire service".

Most Read

Mr Reynolds added today: "We had already submitted an application for a second judicial review prior to the hearing in June, based on new information, and so now we will seek legal advice about whether to continue to pursue that or what other options there may be for us now."

However, Mr Ablewhite has said that he "welcomed" the decision.

Mr Ablewhite said: "I welcome today's judgment which provides the judge's decision to dismiss the fire authority's judicial review. This challenged the process by which the Home Secretary made the decision to approve my proposal to transfer the governance of Cambridgeshire Fire and Rescue Service to myself.

"It would not be appropriate to comment further at this stage."