County backs stepped approach in Fire and Rescue changes

The County Council’s Executive today called for a stepped approach to changes to the way in which North Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service is overseen.

County Hall

The Executive was responding to a consultation by North Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner Julia Mulligan on her business case for accelerating the pace of collaboration between the Police and the Fire and Rescue Service.

Her preferred option is for the Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) to take on responsibility for the Fire and Rescue Service and for the Fire and Rescue Authority, a body of 16 councillors representing City of York Council and North Yorkshire County Council, which currently oversees the Fire and Rescue Service, to cease to exist.

However, after listening to representations from the PCC and the Fire and Rescue Authority, the Executive agreed to favour a “representation model”, which would see the PCC become the 17th member of the Fire and Rescue Authority. This would also enable the PCC to sit on a collaboration committee, a sub-committee of just two people created by the Fire and Rescue Authority to agree collaboration between the Police and the Fire and Rescue Service.

The PCC’s public consultation, which can be found at www.telljulia.com, ends on 22 September, and there was a request from the PCC that the Executive defer a response until after that date, but as a statutory consultee the authority felt it was important to take a lead.

The Leader of North Yorkshire County Council, Cllr Carl Les, said: “I would like to think that this council is a responsive council. It is a council that listens. However, at times it also has to lead and this is such an occasion.

“At all the parish council meetings I have attended since this issue was raised, I have been asked for my opinion and to help people to understand the issues.

“The reason we support the representation model is that is it a stepped approach. It maintains the experience and collective wisdom of the elected councillors who represent communities across North Yorkshire. However, it does not preclude further changes should they prove necessary.”

Cllr Les urged the Police and Crime Commissioner and the Fire and Rescue Authority to work to see what they could achieve together to meet the financial challenges facing the Fire and Rescue Service.

He said the views of district councils which are currently considering the PCC’s proposals would be taken into account in the detail of the County Council’s response, along with public opinion expressed through the consultation and elsewhere.

The County Council’s response will form part of any submission by the PCC to the Home Office after the conclusion of the consultation.

This story was published 15 August 2017