Following a meeting yesterday, new research will be commissioned looking at the potential costs of transferring currently council-run fire and rescue services to the control of police and crime commissioners (PCCs).
Councillors representing a number of council-run fire authorities from across England met in Gloucestershire today to discuss the proposals, which are contained in the Policing and Crime Bill currently before parliament. There are currently two main types of fire and rescue services in the UK, standalone fire authorities, and council-run fire authorities. Stand alone authorities typically cover an area consisting of several local councils, are governed by councillors appointed from those councils, and levy their own council tax on households in their area. Council-run fire authorities are integral parts of an individual council, governed as any other council service, and do not charge separate council tax bills. Of England’s 47 fire authorities, 14 are council-run. The Policing and Crime Bill, if enacted, would give the PCC the power to take over control of fire and rescue services, following consideration of a business case.
The meeting agreed to commission research, which will be funded by Gloucestershire County Council, investigating the costs such mergers could pose to all concerned.
Councillor Nigel Moor, Gloucestershire County council cabinet member for fire, organised the meeting. He commented: “Stand-alone fire authorities have their own tax-raising powers, and may have potential for saving money through joining up back office services with the police. Council-run fire authorities are different – most have already made savings by joining up the fire service with the council as a whole. In Gloucestershire, for example, our chief fire officer also runs our IT, our trading standards, and our emergency planning departments, as well as the fire and rescue service. That’s how we’ve been able to consistently remain one of the most efficient fire services in the country. This research will look more closely at this issue, and at the possible impact any changes could have, on councils, fire services and the police. Hopefully it’s something that Ministers will look at closely, and which will help inform decision-making.”
For more information, go to www.gloucestershire.gov.uk