HEREFORDSHIRE Council has objected to plans for a police chief to take control of the fire service.

The Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) John Campion is proposing to take on governance of local fire services in Herefordshire, Shropshire, Telford & Wrekin and Worcestershire.

This, he claims, would result in an estimated £4 million annual savings. However, Herefordshire Council has issued a formal consultation response stating it does not support the proposals and is concerned that the PCC's detailed business case has not been provided.

In its response, the council has said: "Herefordshire Council is entirely supportive of enabling public services to work more efficiently and effectively together where there is a sound business case for doing so

and the impacts on service provision are clear.

"However, the projected financial savings estimated by the Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) of £4M per year through improved efficiencies appear to be somewhat misleading in their presentation.

"The PCC provided clarification during the presentation of evidence to Herefordshire Council’s General Scrutiny Committee that the projected savings were not wholly additional but included those identified in the efficiency plans, which run through to 2020, for both Shropshire Fire and Rescue Service and Herefordshire and Worcestershire Fire and Rescue Service."

The council said the proposed changes to governance would mean a shift in representation from 42 locally based ward councillors on the two fire authorities, to a single PCC.

"Herefordshire Council questions whether service resilience across three large rural counties is best served by one individual as opposed to the current arrangements where local councillors, who have intrinsic knowledge of their local wards, can represent local community concerns very effectively," the consultation response states.

It added that the council did not have 'full confidence' in the PCC’s initial business case and that concerns had been raised in an independent report for the fire authorities that some of the staff identified by the PCC as potentially reducing by 25% may also have dual roles as frontline fire and rescue officers.

"Until further information is presented on this proposal in the more detailed business case, which the PCC will need to set out after the initial consultation period has ended, it is not clear as to the impacts on service resilience. Herefordshire Council notes with some concern that the more detailed business case is

outside of the scope of this consultation," it said.

Worcester City Council has also opposed the takeover.