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Susan Fletcher (Police, Crime Prevention Officer, Northamptonshire)
Thank you for your interest in my proposal to govern Northamptonshire Fire and Rescue Service. Following a successful public consultation, I am pleased to announce that I have submitted the business case to the Home Office proposing that governance of Northamptonshire Fire and Rescue Service transfer from Northamptonshire County Council to my office. If accepted, I will become Northamptonshire Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner.
My announcement follows an eight week public consultation in which 1212 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. Thank you to everyone who shared their views.
The results of the consultation showed that overall 60.8 percent agreed with the proposal for me 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 transfer.
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 our colleagues in 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.
Northamptonshire County Council has supported the business case we’ve submitted and the proposed transfer in governance. If the Home Office accepts the business case, the change 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.
I believe that 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 front-line services.
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 services and their budgets would remain separate.
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.”
I am expecting a decision from the Home Office in the late autumn. If you want more details about the proposal please take a look at the Business Case and the Consultation Report.
Thanks again for your interest.
Police and Crime Commissioner