Wednesday, 6 January 2016

Police Commissioners set to take control of the Fire Service in England.

Responsibility for the Fire Service in England has transferred from the Department of Communities and Local Government to the Home Office paving the way for Police and Crime Commissioners to take responsibility for the Fire Services following a consultation in September last year.

Thankfully the situation in Wales is somewhat different with both the Local Government Minister, Leighton Andrews and Plaid Cymru's Rhodri Glyn Thomas agreeing that giving Police and Crime Commissioners in Wales responsibility for the three Fire Authorities in Wales would be foolish.

The following is an extract from the Welsh Assembly Plenary debate on the 1st December 2015:
Leighton Andrews:... Finally, he asked about the issue of reviewing the governance of the fire and rescue authorities. Can I start off with an assurance that we will not be giving responsibility for fire and rescue to the police and crime commissioners? Therefore, we will not be following the route that is being taken in England. But, we will be giving further consideration to the issue of the governance of fire and rescue authorities, although I suspect this will be an issue for the next Assembly. 
Rhodri Glyn Thomas:Could I start with your final comment, Minister, and welcome greatly that you don’t intend to transfer responsibility for the fire and rescue service to the police and crime commissioners? Because they have a tendency to transfer some of the local assets into arrangements across the UK, and that raises big questions in terms of local accountability and the ability of the service to respond to local crises... 
Leighton Andrews:Can I start by welcoming the comments of the Plaid Cymru spokesperson in respect of my statement that we will not be following the actions of the Government in England in as far as giving responsibility for fire and rescue to the police and crime commissioners is concerned?
Clearly the Tory PCC for Dyfed Powys doesn't agree with the different approach in Wales.

From my perspective as an ex Police Officer and an ex member of the North Wales Fire Authority I concur with the decision of the Welsh Government and very much hope that the Westminster Government accept that Wales has devolved responsibility for  Fire Authorities and not try to take power back as what would happen if the Wales Bill was passed.

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