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Motion to oppose Norfolk’s police and crime commissioner plan to run the county’s fire service is rejected in Norfolk County Council vote

PUBLISHED: 13:38 24 July 2017 | UPDATED: 15:41 26 July 2017

The future of Norfolk Fire and Rescue was discussed at today's full meeting of Norfolk County Council. Photo: Stuart Anderson

The future of Norfolk Fire and Rescue was discussed at today's full meeting of Norfolk County Council. Photo: Stuart Anderson

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A motion to resist moves by Norfolk’s police and crime commissioner to take over the running of the county’s fire service has been voted down by the county council.

Norfolk Police and Crime Commisssioner Lorne Green.
Picture: ANTONY KELLY Norfolk Police and Crime Commisssioner Lorne Green. Picture: ANTONY KELLY

Steve Morphew, leader of the council’s opposition Labour group, put forward the motion at today’s full meeting of Norfolk Council at County Hall.

But the motion was defeated by a vote of 47 to 25.

The seven-point motion also included pledges to retain fire station and firefighter numbers and to lobby the government to make flood response as a statutory function of the fire service, and increase its funding accordingly.

Speaking before the vote, Mr Morphew alluded to the Grenfell Tower tragedy, and said the public had more of a need than ever for confidence in the fire service.

He said: “This motion is an opportunity to show how much we value what we have and to give the reassurance that people need.”

Fellow Labour councillor Chris Jones said the public needed to know that fire and rescue officers were not “police officers in disguise”.

He said: “The police and crime commissioner should be concentrating on his job and leave the fire service to concentrate on theirs. The county council should take this opportunity to resist this power grab.”

READ MORE: Should Norfolk’s police and crime commissioner be in charge of the fire service too?

But Cliff Jordan, the council’s conservative leader, said now was not the time for such a motion.

He said: “We don’t even know if the police and crime commissioner is going to come forward, that’s the problem. This is premature. All we know is that he has expressed an interest. Therefore all this arguing about the fire service is premature.”

Margaret Dewsbury, Conservative, also said the motion was not needed. She said: “I think we need to be quiet and see what the police and crime commissioner says and then show our hand. But we do have one of the best fire services in the country.”

The government past legislation to allow police and crime commissioners to take over fire and rescue services earlier this year, if they were able to demonstrate a clear business case to do so. The Fire Brigades Union opposes police takeovers.

READ MORE: Give my role more powers, says Norfolk Police & Crime Commissioner Stephen Bett

Lorne Green’s response

“There is no case for the police take over fire and rescue services” - That is the message from Norfolk’s police and crime commissioner Lorne Green in response to the debate about the Labour motion to oppose such a bid at County Hall.

Mr Green condemned talk of a “power grab” regarding Norfolk Fire and Rescue as sensationalist.

He said: “There is no case yet. If there was a business case to be made that we could provide better fire and rescue services for the county then we would look at that possibility, and that’s in keeping with what the government asked us to do.”

Mr Green said any case would be developed by independent and objective consultants.

He said it would have to prove that a power transfer would improve accountability and provide a better deal for residents. Mr Green said: “The fact is that we are already collaborating extremely closely.”

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