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26 March 2018, 15:04 | Updated: 26 March 2018, 17:25
The Home Office have announced their approval for the Police and Crime Commissioner in Cambridgeshire, to take over responsibility for the county's Fire and Rescue Service.
It means at some point in the near future, Jason Ablewhite will become the Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner for Cambridgeshire.
The Home Office decision today follows a year long process and a business case by Mr Ablewhite which was independently assessed by The Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy (CiPFA) in December 2017.
Minister for Policing and the Fire Service, Nick Hurd said:
"It's great to see Police and Crime Commissioners identifying opportunities to drive greater collaboration between police and fire – there is a real opportunity to improve the services provided to local people. The proposals will encourage joint working, sharing of best practice and innovative thinking.
Having a directly accountable leader overseeing both policing and fire will also help maximise available resources and drive transformation across both services. I look forward to seeing the benefits this will bring to the local areas."
Commenting on the announcement, Jason said:
"Cambridgeshire Fire and Rescue Service do a vital job saving lives both through their prevention work, tackling fires and through their many other important roles.
The changes announced today will focus on how the fire service is governed and I look forward to working with the Fire Authority to ensure a smooth transition of responsibilities.
The exact date for transfer of responsibilities has yet to be agreed."
Speaking to Heart as the announcment's been made; Mr Ablewhite added:
"Clearly there are opportunities I think to have joint blue-light hubs, which brings Ambulance in too where appropriate where we can share the costs going forward, where we can release land for development that will pay for these costs and hopefully have some money left over and have some money left over which again we can re-invest in our front line services, so it's very much about being smarter with the public estate we have."
Cllr Kevin Reynolds, Chairman of the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Fire Authority said:
“I know I speak for the whole Fire Authority when I say that we are hugely disappointed with today’s announcement.
All along we have genuinely believed that the business case contained insufficient evidence to prove the case for what is going to be a costly and unnecessary change in governance arrangements and reduce public accountability for what is one of our most efficient and effective public services.
We will take time to look at the findings of the independent report in detail and meet with leaders of Cambridgeshire County Council and Peterborough City Council, who also opposed the recommendation in the business case, to discuss our next steps.”