Local Green councillors have condemned as “damaging” and “life-threatening” proposals to bring local Fire Authorities under the control of Police and Crime Commissioners across the country.
The proposals are part of a “consultation” entitled Enabling Closer Working Between the Emergency Services , which asks respondents to tell the government why they support their proposals but provides little option to challenge them.
The East Sussex Fire Authority was created in 1997, and has significant statutory responsibilities to ensure the efficient functioning of fire services as well as providing fire safety advice to local residents. Local councillors sit on the Fire Authorities to ensure they are democratically accountable to the communities that they serve.
Over the last 10 years the East Sussex Fire Authority has been incredibly successful, achieving an overall reduction of 40% in attended incidents . This reflects a substantial increase in activity geared around fire prevention and community engagement.
Green Councillor Lizzie Deane, who sits on the East Sussex Fire Authority, said:
“As we know well from recent restructures in services like the NHS, proposals like these are highly unlikely to save any money. This is a political move aimed more at the Fire Brigade Union which has challenged the previous government over its savage cuts to emergency services.
“At present, East Sussex Fire Authority functions are managed by former firefighters who have an excellent understanding of the reality on the ground. Working in this way our Fire and Rescue Service has demonstrated exemplary performance and should be commended for their unwavering dedication and bravery.
To move the responsibility for running the fire service to the Police & Crime Commissioner would pose an enormous threat to fire safety and undermine substantial progress made in fire prevention. The PCC is focused on law and order, they have no knowledge or expertise on fire safety or fire services, which should not in a million years be subject to political posturing. The idea that this is somehow democratic is absurd – the PCC elections were risible, with only 5% of all residents voting for the current incumbent as their first choice “.
Green Councillors are now urging the public as well as councillors and MPs from all political parties to unite in resisting any restructure of the fire service and calling on the government to scrap these plans.
Convenor of the Green Group Councillor Phélim Mac Cafferty said:
“The proposals to bring Fire Authorities under the Police and Crime Commissioner will remove democratically elected representatives from how the fire and rescue service is run, and will pave the way for what are likely to be further savage cuts to services.
“We stand shoulder to shoulder with the local fire service and the Fire Brigade Union in resisting these politically motivated, undemocratic and dangerous proposals, and will support firefighters in any action they take to challenge them.
“We call on all councillors and local MPs to put aside political differences and stand together against these reforms. The East Sussex Fire authority is outstanding and we must protect it or we risk people’s lives.
“Austerity is failing – it has slowed economic recovery and increased our national debt. But central government are now preparing to extend its discredited policies into critical areas where cuts will mean lives lost. We must resist now”.
 Consultation: Enabling closer working between the emergency services
The consultation paper can be downloaded here: https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/enabling-closer-working-between-the-emergency-services
Responses can be provided in the following ways:
Email: [email protected]
Post: Emergency Services Collaboration Consultation, Police Strategy & Reform Unit,
6th Floor Fry Building, 2 Marsham Street, London SW1P 4DF
 East Sussex Fire Authority Annual Plan 2015/16