PCC urged to abandon fire service take over

 

By Leigh Boobyer – Local Democracy Reporter

Gloucestershire’s police chief Martin Surl has been urged to abandon his bid to oversee the responsibility of the fire service.

The Police and Crime Commissioner tried to take over the fire service – run under Gloucestershire County Council’s umbrella – last year but was met with opposition by councillors who argued it was a waste of taxpayers’ money.

Mr Surl has now launched a public consultation in a bid that, if successful, would see him run the county’s fire service.

But a motion, tabled at the county council’s full council meeting next week, is calling on all councillors to repeat its opposition to the proposal.

It also calls on Home Secretary Sajid Javid to reject Mr Surl’s plans if he does not abandon it himself.

Mr Surl published a report earlier this month arguing the case for a re-think of the governance of Gloucestershire Fire and Rescue Service (GFRS).

He told the Local Democracy Reporting Service that he hopes councillors do not dismiss his report “out of hand”.

The motion said: “This Council restates its opposition to proposals to transfer the governance of Gloucestershire Fire and Rescue service from the County Council to the Police and Crime Commissioner.

“We call on the Police and Crime Commissioner to abandon the plan, and, if he does not, for the Home Secretary to reject it.”

Police and Crime Commissioner Martin Surl said: “I hope the councillors will read the proposals carefully, consider the advantages both for the fire service itself and the people of Gloucestershire and not just dismiss the report out of hand.

“This is a public consultation which runs until December 21 and I am keen to canvass as wide a range of views as possible. I welcome the council’s interest and look forward to some constructive feedback”.

Mr Surl’s plan to lead the county fire service was triggered in 2016 when the Government said it wanted to introduce legislation to allow PCCs to take over responsibility of fire services.

But last year a report by consultancy firm Ameo, commissioned by the county council to assess the effectiveness of a merger, found it would cost taxpayers’ £2.5million over three years.