Cllr Eric Carter, Chair of the Shropshire and Wrekin Fire and Rescue Authority said: “Earlier this month I was extremely concerned to see the publications within the Association of Police and Crime Commissioners (APCC) document ‘Fire and Rescue Governance in Focus – PCCs Making A Difference Delivering an Efficient and Effective Fire and Rescue Service in England.’ which myself and the rest of the Fire Authority members, feel undermines the upcoming consultation process.
“Although some of the comments made in the document were contentious and in cases stretching the facts, my greatest concern is the Fire Minister’s endorsement in the document which was done with such strength during a time when we are about to go into a consultation on the future governance options for the Fire and Rescue Service.
“We are currently awaiting the opportunity to consult on a government white paper for reform of fire and rescue services and I believe this recent statement from APCC was mitigating the effectiveness of the consultation.
“Although the content of the document itself was worrisome in its indication that the Service would be more efficient and effective under the governance of the Police and Crime Commissioner, it is the impact on the consultation that we are averse to.
“The other Authority members and I are grateful to the public who have shown support in keeping the current governance and we are determined to proceed in the way the people of Shropshire and Telford have expressed they would prefer. To do this, we need to ensure the consultation process is respected and protected which is why we are responding so strongly to the content of the APCC’s publication.
“Consultation should never be treated as a tick box exercise, and we should remain mindful of the fair process in order to ensure the consultation remains meaningful before releasing any communications.”