Anger at chief’s takeover plan

Police and Crime Commissioner Jason Ablewhite EMN-160325-092511009
Police and Crime Commissioner Jason Ablewhite EMN-160325-092511009
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Plans for the Cambridgeshire’s Police and Crime Commissioner to take over the running of the county’s fire service have been slammed.

Cllr Mohammed Jamil, Peterborough city councillor and member of the Cambridgeshire Fire Authority, which currently controls the fire service, said the commissioner was the only person in favour of the proposal.

Mr Ablewhite this week revealed a business case which would see him take over the fire authority’s duties from April 2018 following approval from the Home Office.

It follows new legislation which allows police and crime commissioners to take on responsibility for fire and rescue services in their area where a good case is made to do so.

Cllr Jamil said: “I’m totally against it. We are a lean and mean fire authority. We have managed to not hit front-line services while saving £7 million over the last five years,

“The only man who is in favour of this is the one man who can take it forward. The police demands are different and the two are not compatible.

“The relationship the fire authority has with the fire service is a lot better than the police commissioner’s would be. We hold the chief to account for all of his decisions. You do not have the same level of accountability in the police service.”

Mr Ablewhite said if he took over the governance of the fire service there would be savings through “better use of fire and police estates, closer and quicker joint working between the two services, and savings through a simpler governance process.”

He added: “The proposal is not a takeover of fire and rescue services, or a merger of the roles of police officers and firefighters. The distinction between operational policing and firefighting will be maintained.” A consultation on the plans is underway.