Hereford & Worcester Fire & Rescue Authority supports judicial review challenge
Hereford & Worcester Fire Authority (HWFA) decided today to support a judicial review challenge to the former Home Secretary's decision to change the governance of the Service from an authority made up of local councillors from the two counties to the Police & Crime Commissioner.
The decision echoes the one made by Shropshire & Wrekin Fire Authority last week and means both fire authorities in the West Mercia area will now challenge the government's approach.
HWFA Chairman, Cllr Roger Phillips, said: "The members of the Fire Authority thought very carefully beforehand about making this decision and believe it is in the public interest to challenge a process that has highlighted that a change in governance would not significantly improve the economy, effectiveness or efficiency of the Service".
"The current oversight arrangements of the Service by the Fire Authority have been in place for over 20 years and have demonstrated themselves to have been proactive, diligent and forward-thinking - as well as representative of the needs of our local communities - ensuring that the Service continues to be both effectively and efficiently managed, despite the pressures of ever-reducing public funds."
"This is demonstrated by the Service's most recent Annual Report and Medium Term Financial Plan – that not only show an on-going strong performance in traditional areas of work, such emergency response and fire prevention activities, but also the growing role of the Service in supporting other public service organisations in their priority areas of focus, such as public health and helping the most vulnerable in our society."
"To change these arrangements without having the robust evidence to show it will significantly improve what the Service is already doing is a big risk – as the upheaval in itself has a potentially damaging effect on both staff performance and morale".
Whilst the legal challenge is progressing, Cllr Phillips also wanted to reassure both the public and staff that the Service will continue to maintain its high standards of service delivery, at the same time as implementing its planned improvement and efficiency priorities, including those established collaboration projects and plans it has with both Shropshire Fire & Rescue Service and West Mercia Police.