The Conservative Police and Crime Commissioner has this week released his plan for taking over the Fire Service, justifying the idea with massive ‘efficiency savings’ including ‘one-off capital receipts’ of up to £15m.
Paul Zukowskyj, lead Lib Dem member on the Community Safety panel at County Hall condemned the move saying, “David Lloyd has virtually completed his asset-stripping of the police, including overseeing the loss of more than three hundred police posts across the county since 2012 and closing numerous police station front desks, now he wants to do the same asset stripping to our fire service.
“We need the services, as we’ve seen recently with the terror attacks and now the fire in Grenfell Tower. Asset stripping them will mean they might not be there when we need them the most. This hostile take-over has to be stopped and the Lib Dems at County Hall will resist it every step of the way.”
Paul continued: “Will closure of Fire Stations follow the closure of our Police Stations? The Yearly revenue savings of up to £4m, which are most likely to comprise staff losses, are likely to mean less fire fighters at a time when the need for both services has never been clearer. The one-off capital receipts are likely sales to developers of fire or police stations, which the PCC says are no longer required.
“From offering a free home to voluntary organisations, offering and fitting free smoke alarms, keeping a look-out for vulnerable people in our communities and promoting the ‘Life’ programme for young people, Fire Fighters have worked hard over recent years to become trusted friends in the community, work that would be destroyed if they are seen under the PCC as part of the Police Service.
“We need the services of a dedicated Fire Service, as we have seen recently with the terror attacks and now the fire in Grenfell Tower. Asset stripping them will mean they might not be there when we need them the most. And what will happen to the inter-Service coordinated cooperation by which different Fire Services develop different specialisms to ensure we can deal with anything.
“There may be some synergy at the top levels of governance as recognised by HCC in the creation of the County Community Safety Unit (CCSU), but that was within the overall democratic accountability of the Cabinet System, with the Portfolio Holder having to be called to account at Council Meetings. How different with the present PCC, who is monitored by the toothless PCP which never reports to HCC. We will lose that democratic accountability if we allow this to happen.”
“This hostile take-over has to be stopped and the Lib Dems at County Hall will resist it every step of the way.”