Cambridgehire and Peterborough Fire Authority urge public to vote no to police and crime commissioner taking on dual role

Police and Crime Commissioner Hustings at Wisbech 
Jason Ablewhite
Police and Crime Commissioner Hustings at Wisbech Jason Ablewhite

The public is being urged to say no to Cambridgeshire’s police and crime commissioner also taking control of the county’s Fire Authority.

In an open letter the chairman of Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Fire Authority branded the move by Jason Ablewhite to take on the dual role as potentially “costly and unnecesary”.

Last month the PCC’s office announced it was consulting on the dual role after considering four options in the wake of the new Policing and Crime Act 2017, which introduced a statutory obligation on all emergency services to collaborate and enable PCCs to take on resposibilities for the fire and rescue services in their area.

The PCC’s office estimates the move will save around £1.69 million over 10 years through savings in fire authority members allowances and sharing of a chief financial officer post.

However, both Cambridgeshire County Council and Peterborough City Council unanimously voted to oppose the PCC’s plan and instead supported the Fire Authority’s preferred option of having the PCC sitting as a member of the Fire Authority.

Councillor Kevin Reynolds, Fire Authority chairman said: “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.”

He added: “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.”

The Fire Authority’s response can be found on Cambridgeshire Fire and Rescue Service’s website: http://www.cambsfire.gov.uk/CPFA%20Response%20to%20Local%20Business%20Case.pdf

Details of the business case, including a short summary of it, and a link to the survey can be found on the PCC’s website http://www.cambridgeshire-pcc.gov.uk/get-involved/fire-governance-consultation/