Is the writing on the wall for fire and rescue authorities?
Online conferences are a poor substitute for the real thing and without a trip to Gateshead for the LGA Fire Conference, Political Editor Catherine Levin takes solace in Zoom to listen to Lord Greenhalgh and Sir Tom Winsor as they share their thoughts about the state of the Fire and Rescue Service.
Professionalism, people and governance may be the three pillars that underpin the approach that the current Fire Minister Lord Greenhalgh takes to his work, but this year’s LGA Fire Conference audience was mostly interested in governance.
Fire and rescue authority members do not want police and crime commissioners to take over the scrutiny and oversight of fire and rescue services. It is the classic turkeys voting for Christmas problem. The question section of the LGA conference was open season on the topic and members returned to it time after time.
The Home Office review of police and crime commissioners had not been published at the time of the conference, so Lord Greenhalgh was unable to share its content. The review was first announced in July 2020 and was due to be published in October, so it was well overdue. It was in fact published on March 16, and in good time before the PCC elections on May 6.
There are four police, fire and crime commissioners in England: Staffordshire, North Yorkshire, Essex and Northamptonshire, with just two of the incumbents standing again. It is likely that fire will feature in many manifestos, although it is early days on the campaign trail.
Read the full article on our digital issue, page 17-19.
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