Fire Authority believes insufficient evidence to make the case for change

News release issued by Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Fire Authority.

The Chairman of Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Fire Authority is urging local residents to vote against the Police and Crime Commissioner’s (PCC) proposal to take over the governance of Cambridgeshire Fire and Rescue Service.

The Fire Authority believes the business case that sits behind the recommended proposal contains insufficient evidence to prove the case for what could be a “costly and unnecessary change in governance arrangements”.

The plea 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 and instead supported the Fire Authority’s preferred option of having the PCC sitting as a member of the Fire Authority.

Councillor Kevin Reynolds, Chairman of the Fire Authority 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.”

Kevin 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 £6million, have 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. The fire service is a much respected and trusted emergency service and with its unrivalled reputation our staff are able to get into the homes of vulnerable people where others have failed, to carry out safety checks and ensure they receive the services they need. This is something we need to protect and we are concerned a change in governance to align closer with the police could affect this.

“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 vast proportion of people we have spoken to disagree with the PCC’s proposal too. I would urge people to please complete the survey and make their opinion known about what they think is best for the future of their fire service.”

The Fire Authority’s response can be found on Cambridgeshire Fire and Rescue Service’s website here.

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 here.