Shropshire & Wrekin Fire Authority is seeking feedback on proposed changes to the governance arrangement of Shropshire Fire and Rescue Service.
‘In 2017 the Police and Crime Commissioner for West Mercia put a business case to the public stating his proposals would “create potential efficiency gains of £4m per year”. The case was then refined and sent to the Home Secretary for approval; now citing savings of between £30.6 and £46.3m over 10 years through making changes in fire service ‘back room’ functions, governance, command structure and control rooms.
The, then, Home Secretary commissioned an independent review of the business case that concluded that “the potential savings…have been significantly overstated”, transition costs appear “understated” and “careful consideration is required to match scale and pace to risk”. While the assessment did say that “on balance” a move to the Governance Model (where the PCC takes control of the Fire And Rescue Service) would be in the interests of economy effectiveness and efficiency” there was “no overwhelming case for the Governance Model” and ”most of the proposed changes could be achieved under the other options” i.e. a strong partnership between all “blue-light” services. However the Home Secretary granted a transfer of governance on the basis that “on balance” improvement could be made.
This has been proved by the creation of a successful fire alliance between Shropshire and Hereford and Worcester Fire and Rescue Service that is already looking to create more capacity and resilience through its IT functions, joint procurement and sharing operational functions.
The existing Fire Authority for Shropshire are strongly of the view that the current form of governance, with locally elected councilors being put forward by their local authorities to represent their communities, works well and does not need changing.
Under their governance the Service has received a “Good” rating across the board from Her Majesty’s Inspectors and have managed to improve performance year-on-year where it counts most in reducing and preventing fires.
The Fire Authority challenged the Home Secretary’s decision through judicial review. A recent court hearing has found that the decision was not contrary to the law.
The Fire Authority remain convinced that there is “no overwhelming case for change” as endorsed by CIPFA, the independent assessors appointed by Government. However, before continuing to fight against the change of governance, the Fire Authority want to be assured this is what their communities want them to do.
Therefore, we would be grateful if you can answer the following 4 simple questions in this survey: https://www.surveygizmo.eu/s3/90159381/SWFRA