Fire Authority responds to PCC takeover of Fire Service
The Chairman of Hereford & Worcester Fire Authority, Cllr Roger Phillips, has expressed his disappointment at the Home Secretary's decision to allow the West Mercia Police & Crime Commissioner (PCC), John Campion, to take over the governance of the Fire Service – but has also signalled the Authority's willingness to proactively work with the PCC to ensure a smooth transition period whilst, at the same time, maintaining the high standards of service delivery currently provided by the Service and its staff.
Cllr Phillips said: "The communities of both Herefordshire and Worcestershire enjoy great levels of service from their Fire & Rescue Service – and it is our job now to ensure these standards are maintained."
"In addition, we will work with the PCC to ensure our principles of adding value to local communities, delivering on collaboration where it is make sense to do so, and our determined focus on efficiency and effectiveness are all continued and, where possible, enhanced as we prepare to hand over governance."
The Fire Service already has a number of key collaboration projects it is undertaking with both West Mercia Police and Shropshire Fire & Rescue Service, such as the move of HWFRS headquarters to the police headquarters at Hindlip Hall later this year. These projects will be unaffected by the change in governance.
"Together with the significant Service changes that are already in train, we appreciate that this move will only add to the feeling of uncertainty for Fire Service staff," commented Cllr Phillips. "However, we are committed to working with the PCC to make sure that any future changes to the way people work are well-thought through, are designed to maintain or improve the current levels of Service performance and support, are sustainable in the long-term and are developed in full consultation with any affected staff groups."
The Home Secretary's decision allows the West Mercia PCC to take over governance of the two Fire & Rescue Services in the region (Hereford & Worcester and Shropshire), and indicative timescales from the Home Office for the handover have been set around June / July this year.
Therefore, Hereford & Worcester Fire Authority will seek to work with the office of the PCC and Shropshire Fire Authority over the coming months to determine what that handover looks like.