“Costly and unnecessary” - Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Fire Authority chairman says crime commissioner’s proposal to take over governance of Cambs Fire ‘contains insufficient evidence’

Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Fire Authority chairman Councillor Kevin Reynolds.

Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Fire Authority chairman Councillor Kevin Reynolds. - Credit: Archant

“Costly and unnecessary” is how the chairman of the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Fire Authority describes a proposal to take over the governance of Cambridgeshire Fire and Rescue Service.

Chairman councillor Kevin Reynolds is urging local residents to vote against Cambridgeshire Police and Crime Commissioner Councillor Jason Ablewhite’s proposal because it “contains insufficient evidence and could be a costly and unnecessary change”.

It comes after the Fire Authority won the support of Cambridgeshire County Council and Peterborough City Council who both unanimously voted to oppose the PCC’s plan. They instead supported the Fire Authority’s option of having the PCC sitting as a member of the Fire Authority.

Cllr Reynolds said: “Under the Police and Crime Act, for PCCs to take over the governance of fire services, a local business case has to be made to prove it is a viable option on the grounds of economy, efficiency, effectiveness and public safety.

“In our opinion it fails to do this in all four areas. It contains unsubstantiated assertions and unrealistic assumptions.

“The business case details how PCC governance will allow greater collaboration, particularly in terms of shared estates. There is no reason we cannot share estates under the current arrangements though, in fact police officers already use some of our fire stations as touch down stations and plans are underway for more of this and more shared sites.

“You don’t need to come under the same governance for this to happen - you just need two willing parties and we are fully supportive of this as it makes perfect sense for the public purse.”

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He added: “As a Fire Authority we work extremely hard with the senior fire officers to make efficiencies and improve the service. This is an ongoing process and since 2010 we have saved in excess of £6 million, continuously been one of the lowest cost fire services in the country and still managed to invest in our frontline by providing crews with the most modern fire engines, equipment and protective clothing.

“We began this process with an open mind but having gone through the business case with a fine tooth comb there really is no hard evidence to suggest changing things would be of any benefit to anyone. It would just be a costly and unnecessary change in governance arrangements.”

Details of the business case and a link to a survey can be found via http://www.cambridgeshire-pcc.gov.uk/get-involved/fire-governance-consultation/

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