Sussex PCC seeks renewed commitment from fire authorities to seize transformation opportunity
At Shoreham Fire Station today (Friday, 14 July), Sussex Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) Katy Bourne presented the recommendations of an independent report she has commissioned into the governance options for the county’s fire and rescue services.
The report, available on the PCC’s website, was compiled using information made available by the relevant partners: Sussex Police, West Sussex Fire and Rescue Service, East Sussex Fire and Rescue Service, East Sussex Fire Authority and West Sussex County Council (which acts as the Fire Authority for West Sussex).
“This independent report shows that the current fire and rescue structures in Sussex could be modified and rationalised for the benefit of staff, local residents and taxpayers,” said Mrs Bourne.
“It reveals savings of at least £7m which can be realised over the next 10 years through closer collaboration, including standardising operating and training procedures, joint procurement and utilising compatible fire-fighting equipment.
“Regionally, our emergency services are already working together to share premises, fleet management and communication platforms. The savings and improved co-ordination from these large projects are being achieved, albeit slowly, without substantial changes to governance. However, as the report highlights, with real determination and leadership there are opportunities to work even more creatively together.”
Under The Policing and Crime Act, Police and Crime Commissioners have a statutory duty to explore emergency service collaboration, which is why Mrs Bourne commissioned this independent review.
“Through the process of preparing the report, the fire authorities have given the public a renewed commitment to more energetically embrace collaboration. Sussex Police also supports closer working between the two fire services. The report shows them how to do this and where the efficiency savings can be made. I want to support that transformation without disruption to the service or causing unnecessary anxiety for fire service professionals and incurring further costs. That is why I will not be seeking a change to governance at this time,” she added.
“It is absolutely right that we [the public] should be kept informed about the progress being made in achieving these efficiencies. Further changes may also be driven by the introduction of a national inspection regime for fire services, which will bring with it common reporting and scrutiny measures. I plan to revisit the governance options in two years’ time, once both fire and rescue authorities have had a chance to seize these transformational opportunities.
“I have published the independent report so that people can see the facts and details of the options for themselves. The £150k cost of the study has been met by central Government.”