Talks plea over fire job for commissioner

The chair of the Cambridgeshire police panel has called for more time to discuss plans for the crime commissioner to take over governance of the fire service.

Sunday, 17th September 2017, 1:00 pm
Updated Wednesday, 27th September 2017, 11:43 am
Jason Ablewhite, Conservative candidate for the PCC elections meeting the Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond at Peterborough Station. Jason is wearing the blue rosette. EMN-160325-092511009

Cambridgeshire Police and Crime Commissioner Jason Ablewhite is planning to place the fire service within his portfolio.

He plans to take his recommendation to the Constabulary Business Co-ordination Board on September 21 and the Home Office on September 30 for approval.

However, there have been a number of objections to the plans, including from Peterborough City and Cambridgeshire County Councils.

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At a meeting of the Cambridgeshire Police and Crime Panel, members called for a focus group to be set up to allow more discussions.

Chairman Edward Leigh said: “The Panel understands that the Police and Crime Commissioner intends to proceed with his proposal to assume the role of the Fire Authority. However the two statutory consultees, Cambridgeshire County Council and Peterborough City Council, both opposed the proposal. Because of this, the matter will have to go through an arbitration process. The Home Office has yet to set this up, and preparing for it will inevitably require time and resource for the participants.

“The Panel therefore made a recommendation that the Commissioner make one last effort to seek consensus with the statutory consultees, thereby avoiding the need for arbitration.”

Mr Ablewhite said: “The Fire Consultation ran for a full nine weeks and the timescale was well advertised allowing ample opportunity for responses.

“The statutory consultees, Peterborough City Council and Cambridgeshire County Council both responded and The Fire Authority response was received early on in the consultation period. All comments were considered as they came in.

“I am confident that the timetable we are working to allows us to properly consider and respond to comments made.”