Herts county council group opposed to police commissioner’s proposal to take over fire services

St Albans Fire Station. Picture: DANNY LOO

St Albans Fire Station. Picture: DANNY LOO - Credit: Archant

A group of Herts county councillors are opposing the police commissioner’s proposal to take over the fire service.

Police and crime commissioner (PCC) David Lloyd has suggested he should oversee the fire service to save £4m.

However, the all-party community safety panel said his idea would not help economy, efficiency or effectiveness, or public safety.

Colney Heath councillor John Hale, who sits on the panel, said: “The proposals were not acceptable.

“The numbers do not add up and there were financial inaccuracies in the business case. The only way the PCC could achieve the savings he wanted was by cutting the service.

“At the moment, we have a good service which has very cost-effective back offices.

“The PCC has to demonstrate he can deliver the savings without cutting the service.”

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The panel were unanimous in their decision, which will be considered by county council tomorrow.

Mr Lloyd only has to consult the council on the plans, and could still go ahead with them if they reject his case.

The panel’s chair, Terry Hone, said: “The existing service is much more than just an emergency service, and having firefighters working closely alongside social workers, public health specialists and trading standards makes a huge difference to keeping our residents healthy and safe.”

Panellists have instead suggested Mr Lloyd be given a seat on the county council cabinet.

The Herts Advertiser previously reported on the proposals when opposition councillors raised the spectre of St Albans losing its fire station, something the PCC denied. Mr Lloyd has now said: “It is disappointing the council is considering an objection to this proposal.

“I fully understand their concerns that the budget raised for the fire service may no longer be available to support some of the council’s other functions, including social work and public health.

“However, in the end I think it must be right that money raised to fund the fire service should be used to fund the fire service and not diverted into other areas of the county council.”

He rejected the suggestion of a seat on the cabinet, saying: “The commissioner would be one member of a nine person cabinet appointed by the council leader with no real power.”