Hands off our fire brigade!

By staff reporter in Local People

County councillors have sent a clear message to Gloucestershire’s Police and Crime Commissioner - ’Keep your hands off our fire brigade!’

The Commissioner, Martin Surl, has been looking into whether the county fire and service would benefit from being taken out of council control and administered by his department.

But at a full council meeting last week a motion from Gloucester Liberal Democrat councillor Jeremy Hilton calling for the service to stay in local authority control was unanimously backed.

The motion said: "It is better for Gloucestershire Fire and Rescue Service to remain under the governance of Gloucestershire County Council and all members should work together to oppose a transfer of the responsibility of the fire authority away from Gloucestershire County Council."

Mr Hilton, from Kingsholm, said: "I’m delighted that my motion opposing the transfer of GFRS away from the county council was backed unanimously. It’s clear from the recent study that removing the fire and rescue service from the county council would cost the public £2.5million over three years without any savings at all.

"On top of this, the disruption could cause severe damage to the quality of the service we provide and to the collaboration between the fire and rescue service, other blue light services and the rest of the public sector.

"We should remember that GFRS under our governance is one of the most innovative and effective fire and rescue services in the country, establishing the tri-service centre, co-responding with partners, and carrying out safe and well checks."

Tory Councillor Mark Hawthorne, leader of Gloucestershire County Council, said: "We are united on this issue. Gloucestershire Fire and Rescue Service should be allowed to continue the great work it is doing rather than using valuable resources in a costly change of governance.

"I hope the Police and Crime Commissioner will realise any move would not be in the interests of local people this service works so hard to protect."

Cllr Lesley Williams, leader of the Labour group, said: "I am delighted there was unanimous support for the motion, and demonstrating that the democratic accountability within the council is working. We have an outstanding fire service and I give it my full support."

Gloucestershire Fire and Rescue Service’s work has been nationally recognised as leading practice and the chief fire officer has recently been appointed as the national fire lead for prevention.

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