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North Yorkshire Police and Crime Panel rejects fire service takeover bid

Credit: PA/ITV Tyne Tees

The North Yorkshire Police and Crime Panel has rejected proposals for the Commissioner to take on responsibility for both the fire service and the police.

The proposals were put forward by the Police and Crime Commissioner, Julia Mulligan, to scrap the North Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Authority, with the Commissioner taking on responsibility for both.

Julia Mulligan North Yorkshire Police PCC Credit: ITV News
Credit: ITV Tyne Tees

The panel, which comprises councillors from the district councils, North Yorkshire County Council, City of York Council and community members, has urged the Commissioner to reconsider her proposal in favour of a model which would mean retaining the current Fire Authority and giving the Commissioner a voting place at the table.

This is known as the “representation model”.

Hambleton District Councillor Peter Wilkinson, Vice Chair to the Panel said:

The panel agrees with the general principle of improving collaboration for the benefit of communities and where it also achieves savings that can be re-invested into frontline services.

But the Commissioner’s proposal goes too far. She is asking the public – and we as partners – to agree to a proposal which is very high-risk, lacking in any detailed assessment of what it would achieve and which, critically, cannot be reversed if things go wrong.”

– Hambleton District Councillor Peter Wilkinson

The panel, which provides scrutiny of the Commissioner’s performance, expressed its concerns at its meeting on 14 September.

Concerns were about the business case put forward for her taking over responsibility of the fire service, which would result in the loss of expertise of the 16 councillors who currently sit on the Fire Authority.

Councillor Wilkinson said:

Such a drastic change in governance of the fire service is totally needless in North Yorkshire.

We understand that there are parts of the country with under-performing fire services where this ‘governance model’ may appeal.

However, we have an effective Fire Authority with strong leadership, which has taken forward a number of good collaborative initiatives with other partners, such as the health sector.

Taking a very narrow focus on pushing police and fire together risks excluding such valuable partnerships and reducing the range of collaborative opportunities that would benefit communities.”

– Hambleton District Councillor Peter Wilkinson

The Commissioner’s public survey about the options for change in the way the fire service is run ends on 22 September and can be completed online.