With under two weeks until the governance of North Yorkshire’s Fire and Rescue Service transfers from the Fire Authority to the Police and Crime Commissioner, Labour Councillor Danny Myers has criticised the way plans for the transfer have not been shared with the public. The current Fire Authority is made up of elected Councillors from across the whole of North Yorkshire, with Cllr Myers being one of York’s representatives.
However, no plans have been shared about how decisions will be made to ensure that North Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service has the funding it needs, and that communities have the fire cover they need, so that when they call 999 they get a fast responding fire engine on its way. Cllr Myers has little confidence that the current Police and Crime Commissioner, Julia Mulligan, is the right person to tackle the job.
“If Ms Mulligan’s record in control of the Police is anything to go by, we can expect broken promises and more cutbacks. Police Officer numbers are still falling and despite Ms Mulligan’s pledge to increase Officers, North Yorkshire Police has 44 fewer Officers than when she took control.
“The Fire Service has distinct challenges ahead that need clear direction, including the need to recruit more wholetime firefighters. The last round of recruitment was nearly 10 years ago and there are over 40 firefighters due to retire across York and North Yorkshire in the next few years. Spreading the cover of firefighters ever more thinly across a county as big as North Yorkshire is bound to spell disaster.
“Ms Mulligan’s governance arrangements would do well to improve upon those she currently has in place for the Police. There are currently no opposition councillors from York allowed on the Police and Crime Panel, and if this is replicated for Fire Service governance, it cuts the voice of the community in half”.
Cllr. Myers said the smooth transition of the Fire Service was being put at risk by a lack of experienced oversight from those who know it best. He adds:
“I’d like to know just how much money the Police and Crime Commissioner is spending on private consultants coming in and doing reports on how to structure her new organisation. The senior staff and trade unions are well placed to help on this work and it wouldn’t cost the taxpaying public anything extra.
“The Chief Fire Officer has now moved on and the Assistant Chief has decided it is time to go. I only wonder how long Ms Mulligan can keep the confidence of the Interim Chief who is now in place to try and steady the ship.”