Following a successful public consultation, the Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) for Northamptonshire has today announced that he has submitted the business case to the Home Office, proposing that governance of Northamptonshire Fire and Rescue Service transfer from Northamptonshire County Council to his Office. If accepted, Stephen Mold will become Northamptonshire Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner.
The announcement follows an eight week public consultation in which 1,212 people shared their views on the proposed change. The consultation sought opinions from people from across the county, including fire service employees, police personnel, and staff from Northamptonshire County Council.
The results of the consultation showed that overall 60.8 percent agreed with the proposal for the Commissioner to govern the fire service, 31.7 percent disagreed and 7.5 percent neither agreed nor disagreed. Fire service employees were significantly in favour of the change with 92 percent agreeing to the transfer.
Police and Crime Commissioner Stephen Mold said:
“I am very happy with the outcome of the consultation. I’m confident this proposed change in governance is in the best interests of everyone in Northamptonshire. I’m particularly pleased that people working for Northamptonshire Fire and Rescue Service can see the benefits of the transfer, with 92 percent of respondents wanting to see the change occur.
“The governance role is not operational, and the day to day running of the Fire and Rescue Service remains with the Chief Fire Officer. My role is to provide a strong voice for our local communities, holding the Chief Fire Officer to account, and ensuring the public get an effective and efficient service that responds to our county’s needs.
“The fire service in Northamptonshire has faced significant funding cuts for a number of years. It’s my ambition to increase investment in the service, particularly in the frontline. If the business case is accepted then we can begin the journey to make this a reality, and help make Northamptonshire safer.”
If the Home Office accepts the business case the change of governance would come in to effect from April 2018. The proposal follows recent changes in legislation as part of the government’s desire to create more collaboration between emergency services at local levels.
Police and Crime Commissioner Stephen Mold explained:
“Having a single governance model is a sensible proposal. Northamptonshire Police and the Northamptonshire Fire and Rescue Service already work collaboratively and have led the way nationally on joint working – sharing buildings, vehicles and having joint operational teams.
“There is scope for developing more aligned strategic plans and increasing this collaboration further. We would look at opportunities for joint attendance at incidents, providing joint crime and fire prevention advice, sharing more buildings and support functions, and having joint procurement.
“This provides us with a real to opportunity make efficiency savings and use those funds to reinvest back into frontline services”
Under the new proposals, both organisations would remain separate and keep their separate uniforms, and carry on delivering separate skills. The Chief Constable and Chief Fire Officer would continue to be operationally independent and solely responsible for the day-to-day running of their own specific service and their budgets would remain separate.
The fire service budget is currently part of Northamptonshire County Council’s budget. Under the new proposals the budget would be ring-fenced and collected as part of each household’s council tax, in line with current arrangements. However, the Fire and Rescue Service precept would be shown separately from the total council tax – as the police precept currently is – which ensures transparency for tax payers. The Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner would then allocate a budget to the Chief Fire Officer to run the organisation, as he currently does for the Police and Chief Constable.
The Police and Crime Commissioner is expecting a decision from the Home Office in the late autumn.
A Northamptonshire County Council spokesman said:
“We have supported the full business case submitted to the Home Secretary by the Northamptonshire Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) for the change in governance of Northamptonshire Fire and Rescue Service and are pleased to see so many people across the county giving their feedback as part of the public consultation.
“Northamptonshire continues to lead the way in transforming public services, with the initial foundations for blue light integration created in our county in 2013.
“Bringing the fire service under the governance of the PCC will build on the existing collaborations with the police and enable more joined up strategic planning between our local emergency services to better keep communities safe across Northamptonshire.”
Chief Fire Officer Darren Dovey, said:
“I am pleased that both the public and our staff have had the opportunity to comment on these proposals. We are now hoping for a speedy decision by the Home Office so that our staff have some certainty and we can start to plan for the future”
Chief Constable Simon Edens, said:
“I’m pleased to see that so many residents of Northamptonshire have taken the time to engage with this important consultation, and to hear the majority are in favour of the proposals. Both Northamptonshire Police and the fire and rescue service share the vision of a safer Northamptonshire.
“We have been working together for years to deliver just that and I believe the proposals will help us go further in protecting people from harm. I fully support the Police and Crime Commissioner’s submission to the Home Office and hope he meets with every success in making the proposal a reality come April 2018.”