Northamptonshire PCC to take charge of fire service

Image caption,
Stephen Mold will take charge of the fire and rescue service from this autumn

A police and crime commissioner who will also take charge of a fire service said the move was a chance to "reinvest back into front-line services".

Northamptonshire's Conservative PCC Stephen Mold will take control of the county's fire service in autumn after the Home Office approved his plans.

The Fire Brigades Union (FBU) said how emergency services are run shouldn't be decided by "efficiency savings".

Mr Mold said closer collaboration "can bring real benefits".

The fire service is currently under the control of Northamptonshire County Council.

The government's approval follows a public consultation in the county last year, at which more than 60% of respondents were in favour of a change of governance.

The new role of police, fire and crime commissioner (PFCC) will replace the current county council fire authority, made up of 57 councillors.

Image source, Northants Fire and Rescue
Image caption,
The police and fire services in Northamptonshire will be overseen by one person

The commissioner will hold the chief fire officer to account in the same way the PCC does the chief constable.

The two chief officers will continue to act independently, although the aim is to increase collaboration between the services.

This would include joint attendance at incidents, joint crime and fire prevention advice, sharing more buildings and joint procurement.

'Develop our plans'

All fire service assets, including its budget, fire appliances, vehicles, equipment and buildings, will transfer to the commissioner's office.

Mr Mold said the fire service in Northamptonshire had "faced significant funding cuts for a number of years".

"It was always my ambition to increase investment in the service, particularly in the frontline. We can now make this ambition a reality," he said.

The budget for the fire service will transfer from the county council to the PFCC.

Chief fire officer Darren Dovey said he was pleased "we now know who will be governing the fire and rescue service and can begin to develop our plans for the future".

Ben Selby, regional secretary of the FBU in the East Midlands, said the roles of the police and fire services were "completely different" and the new model would "end the independence that firefighters consider vital".

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