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Lib Dems oppose takeover of fire service by police and crime commissioner

April 9, 2019 7:34 AM

The Liberal Democrats have backed the county council's attempts to stop the police and crime commissioner's proposed takeover of the fire and rescue service.

Gloucestershire County Council has sent the Home Secretary Sajid Javid a comprehensive case opposing the move by PCC Martin Surl.

The council is against his proposal on the grounds that it will impact public safety, reduce the level of funding available to the service and minimise public scrutiny of decisions.

Councillor Jeremy Hilton, Liberal Democrat spokesman for the fire and rescue service, said: "Gloucestershire County Council has been the fire authority since 1974.

"Collectively, over the years, members of the council have done an excellent job in governing Gloucestershire's fire and rescue service. It should stay under the governance of the county council.

"The county council's response to Martin Surl's second attempt to mount an unnecessary takeover of the county fire brigade, has my full backing.

"It clearly shows that the disruption and additional cost of transferring the fire service, is illogical and unwanted.

"It would be a crazy if this hostile takeover were approved by the Home Secretary. There would be severe damage to fire service resilience and it would waste loads of taxpayers' money.

"Martin Surl should now withdraw his flawed business case and accept it doesn't stack up. He should stick to his day job, governing Gloucestershire Constabulary."

The takeover could cost taxpayers as much as £15.7 million - money that would have to be a found from tax increases, or cuts to other vital services, according to the county council.

The council also said there were no identified improvements in public safety and cutting senior firefighters would risk public safety.

There were also concerns about the approach to consultation taken by the PCC and the conclusions drawn from that consultation.