- Gloucestershire Fire and Rescue Service is currently part of the county council but reform is on the Government’s agenda
- The Home Office has set aside £100k to go towards an independent study into how Gloucestershire Fire and Rescue Service is managed
- Researchers will question whether switching GFRS management from the county council to the PCC would give better value for money
- Recommendations from the review are expected later in the year
The question, who is in charge of Gloucestershire Fire and Rescue Service (GFRS) in future should be closer to an answer after the Government agreed to support an independent review into how it is managed.
The service is currently part of Gloucestershire County Council but the Prime Minister is keen to see if reforms, which have brought greater accountability and transparency to the police service, could do the same for fire.
One possible outcome could be closer integration between the two services run by a police and fire commissioner. Other areas are already looking at this option.
Police and crime commissioners have been given the task of overseeing the process. Gloucestershire’s PCC Martin Surl has been given a grant of £100k towards the cost of recruiting independent consultants to do the work.
Mr. Surl said, “Whilst it is not for me to pre-judge the outcome, let me be clear - as I have said on numerous occasions before - no-one is considering an operational merger. It might lead to closer integration between the two, but Gloucestershire will always have separate police and fire services.
“However, when she was home secretary, the Prime Minister Theresa May signaled her intention to give PCCs responsibility for fire to bring ‘greater accountability’. Since I have been told by the Government to do the research, this is the next logical step”.
P.A Consultants of Buckingham Palace Road, London, were chosen from a short list of three. The company describes itself as experts in consumer and manufacturing, defence and security, energy and utilities, financial services, government, healthcare, life sciences, and transport, travel and logistics.
It will examine how GFRS is managed to see if a business case can be made for change.
Mr. Surl said, “The work will begin straight away and I expect to have a list of recommendations by the summer”.