APPROVAL has been given for Cumbria’s Police and Crime Commissioner’s bid to take control of the fire service from April 2023.

PCC Peter McCall submitted a bid to the Home Office to take over governance of Cumbria Fire and Rescue Service earlier this year.

Cumbria County Council had responsibility for the fire service but is set to be abolished in April 2023 with the existing city and borough councils, making way for two new unitary authorities of Cumberland and Westmorland & Furness.

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The PCC submitted the bid to take on the fire service to make its fate one less decision that needed to be made in the local government reform process.

Debates over the fate of the fire service could have seen the new councils gain responsibility for the fire service on their patches or even the establishment of a new Fire Authority.

The decision today to give governance of the service to the PCC means that for the first time, Cumbria has a Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner.

Mr McCall said: “As the County Council is replaced next year by two Unitary Authorities and new potential legislation will require a nominated and elected individual to assume responsibility for fire governance, it makes sense to bring governance together with the Office of the PCC which already carries out a similar function for policing.

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“The essential mission is to ensure that there is no disruption to the delivery of Fire and Rescue services to the public across the county and the protection of support services and staff in a smooth transition which will take some time.

Mr McCall said: “I see my role, in addition to governance of CFRS on behalf of the public is to support the service by seeking the best possible resource for this essential service, to improve infrastructure and ensure that we develop staff, training and equipment, to be ready for future challenges and above all to keep residents safe.”

Cllr Jonathan Brook of Westmorland and Furness Authority stated that: “The transfer of Fire and Rescue Service governance to the Police and Crime Commissioner is a pragmatic solution, providing a common focus for Blue Light Service delivery across the county.

“I look forward to working together in partnership to help deliver the best possible services to all residents of Cumbria.”

Cllr Janet Willis, Cumbria County Council’s Cabinet Member for Customers, Transformation and Fire and Rescue, said: “As a Fire Authority, we will ensure that Cumbria Fire and Rescue Service have the support they need to ensure a smooth transition to the Police and Crime Commissioner.

“Cumbria Fire and Rescue Service deliver amazing work throughout the county to ensure the people of Cumbria and our visitors are kept safe and we wish the Service every success in their future.”

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