Fire Authority seeks judicial review against Cambridgeshire crime commissioner over governance takeover

Jason Ablewhite
Jason Ablewhite
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The Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Fire Authority will issue a claim for a judicial review to challenge the Home Office’s decision to transfer governance of the fire service to police and crime commissioner Jason Ablewhite.

Members have taken legal advice and believe there has been no evidence presented to demonstrate a business case for the change.

Chairman of the Fire Authority Kevin Reynolds said: “We have given this careful consideration since the decision was first announced by the Home Office in March. We have requested additional information from the Home Office about the rationale behind the decision and we have sought legal advice.

“The Fire Authority and fire and rescue service work extremely well together under the current governance model and continually perform well. No reason has been demonstrated as to why a change in governance will bring any substantial benefits. Having taken legal advice, we have decided to challenge the decision by making a claim for a judicial review.”

The Fire Authority was formed in 1998 to govern Cambridgeshire Fire and Rescue Service when Peterborough became a unitary authority. Prior to that, Cambridgeshire County Council had been responsible for the county’s fire service. 17 members – 13 from Cambridgeshire County Council and four from Peterborough City Council – make up the Fire Authority.

The Fire Authority said in a statement sent to the media: "Since 1998, with the Fire Authority at the helm, the fire service has continuously been one of the lowest cost fire and rescue services in the country and scored well in the various assessments and inspections that have taken place by both government appointed bodies and peers.

"In more recent years, the authority has navigated its way through two comprehensive spending reviews where it has needed to find over £7 million of savings to meet a reduction in government funding and has done this successfully whilst maintaining frontline services and still improving equipment and vehicles for firefighters.

"In the last 14 years alone, fires have reduced by 48 per cent and people are safer in their homes with a 44 per cent reduction in accidental fires, a 61 per cent reduction in casualties from fires and a 68 per cent reduction in deliberate fires in our communities."