North Yorkshire’s fire service takeover “a recipe for disaster”, say councillors

A Government decision to allow North Yorkshire’s police and crime commissioner to also control the county’s fire service will be “a recipe for disaster”, unless action is taken, a meeting has heard.

North Yorkshire County Council members expressed continued cross-party dismay at Home Secretary Sajid Javid’s decision last month to widen Julia Mulligan’s role, ending councillors’ control over the fire service.

Mrs Mulligan has argued the move will increase the speed and depth at which the two services work together, improve the transparency and efficiency of both organisations and save at least £6.6m over ten years, which would be used for frontline police and fire services.

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She is due to discuss what councillors labelled “a takeover” at a meeting of the county’s Police and Crime Panel today.

County council members were told the authority, six of the seven North Yorkshire district and borough councils and county’s Police and Crime Panel had voted against the move.

Labour councillor Tony Randerson said: “It’s a slap in the face of our democratic process.

“To put in the hands of one person, the police and fire service is without doubt a recipe for disaster. It does say localism is a buzzword, which is only used while it suits this Government.”

Independent group leader Councillor John Blackie added Mr Javid had made “a travesty of a decision”, given the strength of opposition.

He said: “I believe this places in peril the peace of mind of communities have always had in having the North Yorkshire Fire & Rescue Service in the safe hands of a committee of councillors who know their communities well.”

The Conservative authority’s leader, Councillor Carl Les said he would not defend the Tory Government over granting Conservative commissioner Julia Mulligan extra powers.

He said:  “I am very disappointed that the Government did not listen. We did consider judicial review, but thought that would be pointless as it would only review the process and not the actual decision.”

When asked about the council’s future input into the fire service, he said the commissioner would be pressed to air decisions before approving them.

Cllr Les said, in addition, the county’s police watchdog, the Police and Crime Panel, would now also examine fire service issues.

He said: “It is toothless, but it is better than not having anything at all.
“Interestingly, there was an offer made, as part of the negotiations, that the commissioner may set up a consultative committee to advise her ahead of decisions she’s going to make. I intend to challenge her on whether that’s an opportunity she’s going to deliver.”

1 Comment

  1. How can she know more, and organise, better than the services themselves, utter bollocks, she is a waste of money. I can see the fire service and police cringing. Absolute, utter bollocks. Get rid of her!

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