Ablewhite adds Cambridgeshire fire control to his portfolio
Fire authority unhappy with government decision
Jason Ablewhite has been given the go-ahead to take over the role of overseeing Cambridgeshire Fire and Rescue Service by the government, writes Adrian Curtis.
Mr Ablewhite, who already holds the role of police and crime commissioner, will take on the added responsibility from the fire authority. He will now become the police, fire and crime commissioner.
But the move has been met with dismay by the fire authority which says there is no need for a merger.
Cllr Kevin Reynolds, chairman of the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Fire Authority, said: “I know I speak for the whole fire authority when I say that we are hugely disappointed with the announcement.
“All along we have genuinely believed that the business case contained insufficient evidence to prove the case for what is going to be a costly and unnecessary change in governance arrangements, and reduce public accountability for what is one of our most efficient and effective public services.
“We will take time to look at the findings of the independent report in detail and meet with leaders of Cambridgeshire County Council and Peterborough City Council, who also opposed the recommendation in the business case, to discuss our next steps.”
The Home Office approved the change after a year-long process that involved the production of a business case and consultation period last summer.
The business case was formally submitted to the Home Office in October last year and was independently assessed by the chartered institute of public finance and accountancy in December.
Minister for policing and the fire service, Nick Hurd, said: “It’s great to see police and crime commissioners identifying opportunities to drive greater collaboration between police and fire – there is a real opportunity to improve the services provided to local people.
“The proposals will encourage joint working, sharing of best practice and innovative thinking.
“Having a directly accountable leader overseeing both policing and fire will also help maximise available resources and drive transformation across both services. I look forward to seeing the benefits this will bring to the local areas.”
A delighted Mr Ablewhite added: “Cambridgeshire fire and rescue service do a vital job saving lives both through their prevention work, tackling fires and through their many other important roles.
“The changes announced today will focus on how the fire service is governed and I look forward to working with the fire authority to ensure a smooth transition of responsibilities.”
The exact date for transfer of responsibilities has yet to be agreed.