WEST MERCIA’s Police and Crime Commissioner could be handed control of fire services in Worcestershire in a bid to save £4million a year.
A consultation on the revamp was launched on Monday which, if approved, would see John Campion take over the running of Shropshire and Hereford and Worcester Fire Services.
Under the proposals, the fire and rescue authorities would be disbanded and Mr Campion would assume the new role of Commissioner for Police, Fire and Crime in Herefordshire, Worcestershire, Shropshire and Telford & Wrekin.
The new role would see the commissioner responsible for holding Chief Fire Officers to account.
West Mercia Police and the two fire and rescue services would remain separate, individual organisations under the plans. It’s claimed the proposals will save £4million a year by ‘sharing more back office functions.’
However frontline services would be protected as part of the cost-saving measures.
Mr Campion said: “This proposal is about delivering the best long term results for our communities and our emergency services.
“Our Fire Authorities have laid some good foundations, but it’s clear that our communities are not getting the most effective, efficient services they could. That can only be achieved by making this change”.
“By ensuring our police and fire services are collaborating and integrated as much as possible we can deliver better emergency responses, improve prevention measures, and increase information sharing between the services.
“It allows us to deliver necessary efficiencies but in a way that protects the frontline, rather than damaging it, which I think is a key priority for our communities”.
“Integration does not mean ‘take over’ though. I am clear that I would fully respect and retain the professional skills and knowledge within each service and each geographic area. Integration could not, and would not, come at the expense of standards of service.”
However, Coun Fran Oborski, the Leader of the Liberal Democrats and Green Party group on Hereford and Worcester Fire and Rescue Authority has launched a stinging attack on Mr Campion’s proposals and branded the move ‘a power grab’.
“The idea that these two authorities which bring together representatives of our very diverse rural and urban communities should be dissolved and replaced with a situation where all power will be placed in the hands of one single individual smacks of a ‘soviet’ control style and will create an appalling democratic deficit.”
The consultation runs until Monday, September 11 and to take part visit www.westmercia-pcc.gov.uk