Move to transfer Norfolk's fire service to county's Police and Crime Commissioner rejected
PUBLISHED: 12:38 17 January 2018 | UPDATED: 12:38 17 January 2018
The possibility of Norfolk's fire service being transferred to the county's Police and Crime Commissioner looks to have been dealt a major blow, after county councillors unanimously rejected such a move.
Members of County Hall’s communities committee rejected an independent report’s conclusion that Norfolk’s Police and Crime Commissioner should govern fire and rescue.
An options appraisal over the future of the service had been commissioned by Conservative Police and Crime Commissioner Lorne Green.
Grant Thornton, authors of the report, concluded the “preferred option” would be to transfer the fire service from the county council into the governance of the PCC.
The report concluded to abolish the Fire and Rescue Authority and move governance of the fire service to the PCC would be the preferred option for value for money, effectiveness and public safety.
Grant Thornton had admitted the plan was “ambitious” and relies on the “political will” of stakeholders, including Norfolk County Council.
But on the release of the report.
County council leader, Conservative Cliff Jordan, had already said there is “no compelling case for any change”.
And that view was backed by fellow councillors of all political hues at today’s communities committee.
They voted unanimously not to support the option for a takeover, but for continued collaboration between the police and fire service.
And they called for the PCC not to pursue a full business case.
Dan Roper, leader of the Liberal Democrat group at County Hall said it was important that the committee “nail its colours to the mast” and vote for the status quo.
He said: “We have an excellent fire and rescue service in Norfolk and one of the most efficient in the country. We are very lucky to have that service.
“In those circumstances, I struggle to see an argument for change.”
Conservative Harry Humphrey said he felt the independent report was “rather biased”, while his party colleague Nigel Dixon said: “It certainly isn’t a strong case that supports change at the moment.”
And Labour’s Christie Rumsby said the money spent on the report would have been better used in under threat police and community support officers or put into the fire service.
Commissioner Mr Green has previously said he had felt “duty bound” to commission the report after it became an option under the Policing and Crime Act 2017.
He had said: “My role has been completely neutral and I have never once expressed a view. I am deliberately keeping at arms length from this.
“I do not have an agenda and there is no attempt at a power grab here.”
Following today’s vote, he said: “I wrote to the leader of the council just before Christmas and I will await a formal response from the council telling me what their view is. “If that view is the same as the committee’s, I will have to assess if there is a will to bring this forward”
He stood by the commissioning of the report, saying it was important to assess what the best model was to benefit taxpayers.
The issue will also come before an extraordinary meeting of the county’s police and crime panel on Monday, January 22.