News : Essex Police Commissioner Faces Opposition in Fire Service Joint Governance Bid
Essex, England, Dec 29, 2016 -- A proposal to extend the police and crime commissioner's remit to the fire service has come under attack.
Liberal Democrats in Uttlesford have come out in opposition to Essex PCC Roger Hirst's suggestion of bringing Essex County Fire and Rescue Service and Essex Police under "joint governance".
Conservative Mr Hirst has drawn-up a draft local business case to highlight the savings that could be made by bringing the police and fire services closer together.
He said: "There are opportunities to work smarter and to do more things together which I feel is in the interests of the public of Essex for us to explore."
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They include joint attendance at incidents, sharing buildings and support functions, a possible joint contact centre and IT provision, and efficiency savings.
It is proposed that any released funds would be reinvested.
Mr Hirst, said: "This is not just about making financial savings.
"I believe the oversight by a joint commissioner would improve the provision of services, while also saving money to reinvest back in to both organisations.
"A directly-elected commissioner would be accountable to the public for the delivery of both police and fire services in the county."
However, speaking on behalf of the party, Uttlesford county council election candidate Melvin Caton said: "Much is made of the financial case for the takeover of the fire service by the police and crime commissioner, but important strategic questions about the future delivery of the fire service are not covered by the business case."
He suggested the service could suffer under pressure to find efficiency savings.
"Given the PCC's track record of police station closures and reducing police numbers in Uttlesford, it is essential that residents are told what the likely impact of the takeover will have on the six on call fire stations in the district," Mr Caton added.
"If the proposed changes were proposed in the commercial world, they would be called asset stripping."
Posted by Veronica Silva Cusi, news correspondent
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