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BREAKING NEWS: Norfolk police commissioner says 'no' to fire service management switch for now

By Lynn News Reporter

Norfolk's police and crime commissioner (PCC) has announced he is not proceeding with proposed reforms of how the county's fire service is run, at least for now.

Lorne Green at today's meeting (5555175)
Lorne Green at today's meeting (5555175)

A public consultation took place earlier this year on whether the PCC's office should take over running the service, which is currently overseen by Norfolk County Council.

But Lorne Green has this morning said he does not believe this is the right time to submit a case to the government for reform, despite claiming a majority of public support for change.

However, he added: "I will keep the situation under close review on the clear understanding that, should circumstances change, a case can be submitted. The lights are amber.”

Mr Green said he is likely to review the issue in the new year, which may come after the findings of an inspection of the fire service are known.

He also said a new emergency services collaboration board had agreed the A Case for Change document, on which the consultation was based, should be the basis for future development.

He added: "As PCC I will be monitoring progress around collaboration closely consistent with A Case for Change.

"To allow me full oversight and scrutiny, I will also request a seat on the Norfolk Fire and Rescue Authority."

Officials say more than 7,500 people took part in the consultation, which ran from mid-July to early September, with 59 per cent backing the case for change.

But Mr Green has suggested the opposition of the county council was critical to his decision.

He said: "Given the nature of the change, the County Council’s co-operation and support has a significant impact on the likelihood that the change could be delivered successfully and in line with the business case."

Norfolk Police and Crime Commissioner Lorne Green (2625842)
Norfolk Police and Crime Commissioner Lorne Green (2625842)

Mr Green continued: "The corporate tone adopted [by the County Council] was seriously disappointing, the official consultation was more often than not circumvented or not mentioned and personal and disrespectful comments from a few individual councillors were a real shame.

"What I found most remarkable, however, was that the County Council didn’t even want to find out if things could be done better for the people we serve or give the people of Norfolk the opportunity to have their say.

"Norfolk County Council voted, without a single dissenting vote, to say that such a study would not be in the best interests of the county. In other words, our elected county councillors registered clearly that they were opposed to allowing a study to find out if there was a better way to keep the county safer, and to allowing the Norfolk community to express its views.

"This was particularly surprising given the Minister of State for Policing and the Fire Service had urged the authority to ‘work constructively with your PCC’ on the issue of fire governance and public consultation.

"I think the people of Norfolk would and should have expected better and indeed it is to their great credit that against this background they still voted for change."

The county council have made a statement in response to Mr Green's comments this morning.

Margaret Dewsbury, Chairman of Norfolk County Council's Communities Committee, said: “We already have a well-established collaborative relationship with Norfolk Police. Working together we have achieved a lot and we are committed to making sure this continues.

"We are already working with Norfolk Police to drive forward further opportunities for new and innovative ways to keep our residents safe and to make sure Norfolk Fire and Rescue Service continues to be as effective and efficient as possible.”


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