England

Police commissioners to take over fire services' governance

Fire engine Image copyright PA
Image caption John Campion and Matthew Ellis are among the country's first police, fire and crime commissioners

More police and crime commissioners are to take over the governance of fire services.

Hereford & Worcester and Shropshire fire and rescue services will be governed by West Mercia PCC John Campion, while the Staffordshire service will come under Matthew Ellis.

The decision was announced by the Home Office, following an independent assessment of proposals of how it could work.

Handover will begin within weeks.

The Cambridgeshire PCC Jason Ablewhite will also take control of his local fire service.

The three will join Roger Hirst, of Essex, who became the country's first police, fire and crime commissioner in October 2017.

Following public consultation, the home secretary commissioned independent assessments of each regional proposal in November 2017, conducted by the Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy, which then made a recommendation on whether the proposals should go ahead.

Image copyright PA
Image caption Matthew Ellis said the change would not affect front-line staff

Conservative Mr Ellis said the move was an "opportunity" to improve the way the two services work together.

He said: "The change to governance and oversight will not affect front-line operations of Staffordshire Fire and Rescue Service. Officers and staff should not be unduly worried - it's entirely business as usual."

Fellow Tory Mr Campion had said his proposals could save £4m.

He added: "This represents a real opportunity to build safer communities, which are served by more effective, efficient emergency services.

"The improvements I aim to deliver have been clear and consistent throughout this process and I will work tirelessly to make sure 'potential' benefits on paper, become realities."

Image caption John Campion believes his proposals could save millions of pounds

The chairman of Hereford & Worcester Fire Authority, Councillor Roger Phillips, has expressed "disappointment" at the decision, but said the authority would now work to ensure a "smooth transition".

He said: "The communities of both Herefordshire and Worcestershire enjoy great levels of service from their fire and rescue service - and it is our job now to ensure these standards are maintained."

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