Trade union call on MP to question business case takeover of Norfolk fire service by police commissioner
- Credit: Ian Burt
Trade unionists are asking an MP to question the police and crime commissioner's proposal to govern the county's fire service.
Norfolk police commissioner Lorne Green has been touring across Norfolk to seek the public's view about who should govern Norfolk Fire and Rescue Service.
It is currently governed by Norfolk County Council's communities committee but under the PCC's proposal Lorne Green would become the Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner (PFCC) with a pledge to give the fire service operational and financial independence.
But members of GMB King's Lynn have highlighted their concerns over the proposals in a letter to North West Norfolk MP Sir Henry Bellingham.
Signed by GMB branch secretary Dave Dennis, the letter states: 'I and the members of our branch are in no way convinced that these ideas are safe, all throughout the dialogue it is a cost cutting exercise what with the admin cost and reduction and downsizing of fire engines seems to defeat the objective.
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'Seeing the strength of the Norfolk County Councils opposition to this, I feel warranted to ask you on behalf of the many members of the GMB locally, and many members of the public who we are involved with who share a huge misgiving of these proposals, to express your feelings about these proposals.
'I feel that there should be no need to illustrate that cost cutting, whilst is a short time measure, can have serious and dangerous consequences and perhaps we should take stock and remember that when thinking of the Grenfell disaster.'
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These views were echoed by West Norfolk county councillor Alex Kemp who questioned the future of fire stations in the county.
But Mr Green said there would be no fire station closures, adding: 'Protecting and enhancing public safety is at the very heart of these proposals. This is about getting the very best for the people of Norfolk and our emergency services.
'I have made it crystal clear that there will be no fire station closures and no merger. I believe a change of governance would allow collaboration between our fire and rescue service and police force to go much further and at a faster pace.
'Bureaucracy would be cut and efficiency would be improved. The fire and rescue service would have financial independence and efficiencies would be ploughed straight back into frontline services – hardly cost cutting.'
Mr Green will be continuing his tour with two further public consultation meetings in King's Lynn, on Thursday, August 16 at Hardwick Sainsbury's from 10.30am to 12pm and Morrisons from 2pm to 4pm.
For more information on the fire governance review, and to take the online survey visit www.norfolk-pcc.gov.uk.