Sussex’s police and crime commissioner Katy Bourne
A POLICE chief has been slammed for “wasting a fortune” on the abandoned plan to take over control of West Sussex Fire Service.
Police and crime commissioner Katy Bourne had backed a Government proposal to explore moving control from West Sussex County Council to her office amid a “climate of austerity”.
But after commissioning a study she has now cancelled the idea.
Michael Jones, Labour West Sussex county councillor and member of the Sussex Police and Crime Panel, said: “Katy Bourne has spent a fortune and cost our local councils money they could not easily afford on a project which the councils told her to begin with was not the right future for our fire and rescue services.
“This was always an exercise in trying to justify the role of PCCs in the first place, by the Tory Government.” It should come as no surprise that Mrs Bourne went along with it, as she has always gone along with the Government, in their desire to slash police numbers and close stations across Sussex.”
“I’m relieved that the Fire Authorities will stay in local council control for now. To have taken over the Sussex Fire and Rescue Services would have just been empire building by the PCC. The work of the Police and Fire Service is not closely related. Most of each service’s work does not involve another emergency service. When they do meet up at the same emergencies they are carrying out different functions that require different training, equipment, vehicles and procedures.
Mrs Bourne said millions of pounds will be saved after the report.
She said: “This independent report shows that the current fire and rescue structures in Sussex could be modified and rationalised for the benefit of staff, local residents and taxpayers.
“It reveals savings of at least £7 million which can be realised over the next ten years through closer collaboration, including standardising operating and training procedures, joint procurement and utilising compatible firefighting equipment.”
She said she had commissioned a review as crime commissioners have a statutory duty to explore emergency service collaboration.
She added: “Through the process of preparing the report, the fire authorities have given the public a renewed commitment to more energetically embrace collaboration.
“Sussex Police also supports closer working between the two fire services.
“The report shows them how to do this and where the efficiency savings can be made.” I want to support that transformation without disruption to the service or causing unnecessary anxiety for fire service professionals and incurring further costs. That is why I will not be seeking a change to governance at this time.”West Sussex County Council Leader Louise Goldsmith said: “We are delighted that Ms Bourne has seen the central role West Sussex Fire and Rescue Service plays in our County Council and decided it is safe and well where it is. We look forward to working closely with her to continue to develop and build the modern fire service.”
Source: The Argus