Published on Wednesday, 14th March 2018

 

A year ago, the government invited Police and Crime Commissioners (PCCs) to consider whether they wanted to take control of their local fire brigades. Currently the administration of fire services is carried out by local government, either through a joint committees of councillors, a county council or a regional mayor: in this area, that function is carried out by the Hampshire Fire and Rescue Authority (HFRA) and its ten members, drawn from Hampshire County Council and from the City Councils in Southampton and Portsmouth. I am the Portsmouth member.

 

So far, Essex is the only area where control has shifted to the Police and Crime Commissioner, but there are many others where business cases have been submitted and where the government has not yet made a decision either way.

 

In Hampshire, there will be no change – at least in the short term – following a letter from the Police and Crime Commissioner, Michael Lane, explaining that he does not intend to ask the government to make a change at this time. His letter is at http://www.lukestubbs.com/files/fireletter.pdf (it starts on page 3).

 

This is welcome. HFRA is doing more than just about any other authority to work with the police and local government: its back-office functions are largely provided by the county council; community policing is based in fire stations in many areas and the fire brigade provides a first responder service to some ambulance callouts in the rural parts of the county, when quite often the journey time for the nearest fire engine is less than that for an ambulance. The fire authority has also voluntarily reduced its size from 25 members to ten to simplify and accelerate decision making (and make itself cheaper).

 

The wording in the letter is clear that a business case may still be submitted at a later date, with this decision not to do so now being ‘for the time being’ and that the PCC will ‘maintain a watching brief’,

 

Tags: Fire