Police commissioner accuses county councillors of “scaremongering” over fire service future

Police and Crime Commissioner for Norfolk, Lorne Green, right, with OPCC chief executive Mark Stokes

Police and Crime Commissioner for Norfolk, Lorne Green, right, with OPCC chief executive Mark Stokes. Picture: Ian Burt - Credit: Ian Burt

The commissioner for Norfolk Police has accused county councillors of 'scaremongering' over plans to explore bringing Norfolk Fire and Rescue Service under his control.

In February Lorne Green decided to push ahead with a full business case despite opposition from Norfolk County Council and the Fire Brigade Union.

And at the next full county council meeting, a proposal from Labour's Chrissie Rumsby aims to 'endorse and reaffirm' their opposition and that 'such a move would not be in the best interests of the county'.

It also proposes an information campaign to promote the 'efficient and effective way' the fire service operates under the county council.

At the Police and Crime Panel on Tuesday, Mr Green said he was 'confused and concerned' about the motion.

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'I take offence when I am accused of making a power grab,' he said. 'I am not Napoleon. I am not interested in building an empire.

'Doesn't it make sense to see the evidence before scaremongering tactics and making assumptions? I have had feedback from County Hall but I haven't had any evidence.'

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The business case, expected to cost up to £32,000, is expected to be completed by the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner by the end of June. If a case is made the commissioner can then decide whether to put it out to public consultation.

Mr Green added: 'I believe it is my duty to provide the people of Norfolk the most cost effective emergency services. I have no personal bias and I will be guided by the evidence.

'I want to make it clear I am not interested in pursuing a merger of the two emergency services.'

But after OPCC chief executive Mark Stokes explained three recent Home Office decisions had gone ahead despite opposition from local councils, Liberal Democrat Sarah Butokifer said it 'sounds like we are being given a fait accompli'.

County Hall's communities committee rejected an independent report's conclusion that the 'preferred option' was for the police and crime commissioner to run the service.

Leader Cliff Jordan had said there was no compelling case for any change and accused his Tory colleague of an attempted 'power grab'.

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