Fire Sector Partnership Chair Brian Robinson and Chief Fire Officers Association President Lee Howell join Fire Minister Bob Neill on the panel, chaired by Lord Digby Jones.

Responding to questions from the President of CFOA and the Chair of the Fire Sector Partnership on breaking down barriers, Fire Minister Bob Neill, said the culture of silos has traditionally run deep throughout government. "It takes time to move this forward," he said. Lord Jones referred to the previous government's "joined-up" government, suggesting it is all about personalities.

A question from the floor on the value of elected police commissioners was met with differing views by the panellists. CFOA President Lee Howell said it could prevent opportunities to work closer together, but was unsure whether it would work for fire commissioners.

"It's an opportunity for fire authorities to communicate better with police counterparts," said the Fire Minister. On local decision making, the Minister added: "The pragmatic answer is that we as a government decided we wouldn't go in for any more structural reform. If there is an interest in voluntary collaboration and merger, that's a different kettle of fish as it's driven from the bottom up."

FSP Chair Brian Robinson said that from the start the Minister wanted the partnership to be as broad as possible. "If people feel welcome and their views are valued, they will come to the table," he suggested.

The Minister added that he would like to see constructive dialogue and enlightened self-interest.

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Posted November 29th, 2011 at 1535 by Andrew. Comment by emailing: