Seeking to Keep Fire and Rescue controlled by Cornwall Council

Posted on: 15th September 2013
Cllr Sue James is fighting to keep Cornwall Fire and Rescue Locally Controlled

Cllr Sue James is fighting to keep Cornwall Fire and Rescue Locally Controlled

Given the motion that was unanimously passed at Cornwall Council in July,  and the tone of the debate that day, I was somewhat shocked to see a recommendation to Cabinet, put before a committee I am on, that we start giving any consideration to the merger of our Fire and Rescue Service with that provided to Devon and Somerset.

Earlier, in the Homes and Communities Committee meeting, we agreed, as part of recommendations to Full Council, that we “have no appetite for merger”. Then, at a later point in the meeting, when discussing the draft budget, we were being asked to recommend to Cabinet that, if budget cuts were to be greater than £2.25m by 2018/19 that merger, as an option, be explored.

Well, I could not keep quiet on that one and suggested we drop the recommendation as it was inconsistent with what Cornwall Councillors had been saying. For the 2nd time, since becoming a Cornwall Councillor, I gained cross party support so the meeting had to take a break for some re-working of the recommendation.

As a result of this, the recommendation we are putting to Cabinet is that, because there is no appetite for merger with Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue Service, the budget can be cut no more than £2.25m before 2018/19.

Hopefully, keeping our Fire and Rescue Service under local control.

In the report that included the recommendation to consider merger it was stated that the Devon and Somerset Fire Authority consists of 15 councillors from Devon and 8 from Somerset. If merger was ever considered, I wonder how many seats Cornwall would get offered at the table and therefore how much influence we could hope to have on local service provision?