North Yorkshire crime tsar's plan for fire service fails to win over council leadership

North Yorkshire's police and crime commissioner, Julia Mulligan, wants to take over governance of the fire service.
North Yorkshire's police and crime commissioner, Julia Mulligan, wants to take over governance of the fire service.

A crime commissioner’s hopes of bringing the fire service under her governance have been dealt a blow after councillors rejected her proposal.

North Yorkshire County Council’s Executive has come out against Julia Mulligan’s preferred option of replacing the existing fire authority, saying it would be more appropriate for her to have a seat on the body instead.

Although the final decision on any governance changes remains with the Government, a key factor will be whether the North Yorkshire police and crime commissioner's proposals have local support.

Ms Mulligan first made her case for scrapping the fire authority – on which 16 councillors sit – when she began a public consultation last month.

She argued that bringing governance of police and fire services under her control would improve efficiency and collaboration while saving money.

But county council leader Carl Les said a “stepped approach” whereby Ms Mulligan joined the fire authority was preferred.

He said: “It maintains the experience and collective wisdom of the elected councillors who represent communities across North Yorkshire. However, it does not preclude further changes should they prove necessary.”

Previously Scarborough Borough Council leader Derek Bastiman said Ms Mulligan's case had "not been convincing".

And a former chief constable of North Yorkshire Police said plans for the crime commissioner to replace the fire authority was "crazy".

Ms Mulligan said: “I am particularly disappointed that the council decided not to wait until they had the views of the public and the workforce before making their decision.”

She also criticised the fire authority for refusing her request to hold staff roadshows for firefighters as part of the consultation, which ends on September 22.

But Coun Les said the views of district councils and public opinion would be taken into account in the council’s formal response.

Click here to take part in the consultation survey online.