Police commissioner today takes over Northamptonshire fire and rescue budget

Stephen Mold today (Tuesday) takes over the budget of the county's fire and rescue service.
Stephen Mold today (Tuesday) takes over the budget of the county's fire and rescue service.

Northamptonshire's police and crime commissioner has become the first in the UK to take over spending controls of his county fire service as well after a bid was approved by the Home Office.

As of today (January 1) Stephen Mold will now become the police, fire and crime commissioner (PFCC) and will oversee the budget for the fire service.

Governance is transferring from Northamptonshire County Council and the PFCC will now be responsible for the performance of the fire and rescue service and will hold the chief fire officer, Darren Dovey, to account for performance like he does the police chief constable.

The move means that the budget will now be ring-fenced, which means it can only be used for Northamptonshire Fire and Rescue Service, and not for any other purpose.

Stephen Mold, Northamptonshire Police and Crime Commissioner said: “I am excited that my team will be taking on the governance of Northamptonshire Fire and Rescue Service that will bring much-needed stability to the service and enable it to plan for the future.

"I also believe that the effectiveness of both organisations can be enhanced through working more closely together.

“I have been visiting teams around the county to get an understanding of the issues facing front line firefighters and staff and I look forward to working with the chief fire officer on his plans to develop the service.”

Governmental approval of the business case submitted by Mr Mold’s office follows a public consultation in the county in 2017, which found 60 percent of respondents were in favour of him taking control of the fire service's budget - instead of the cash-strapped county council.

The eight-week consultation sought opinions from people from across the county, including fire service employees, police personnel, and staff from Northamptonshire County Council.

Ways to bring together vehicle maintenance, IT, HR and finance to support both organisations are already being explored.

This, alongside the potential sharing of resources and buildings, should help both organisations to make savings and ensure that the maximum amount of money is available to focus on frontline services.

The precept – the part of the council tax that goes towards the funding of Northamptonshire Fire and Rescue Service – will be shown separately on council tax bills for the first time.

Chief fire officer Darren Dovey said: “I am very glad that the governance transfer is taking place on January 1 as it is the culmination of two years of hard work by the PCC and his staff, working together with senior officers from the fire and rescue service.

“This will provide Northamptonshire Fire and Rescue Service with a more solid financial foundation from, which we can plan for the longer term.

"In addition it will allow us to work more closely with our police colleagues for the benefit of the communities in the county.”

Northamptonshire County Council cabinet member for transport, highways, environment and public protection, councillor Ian Morris said: “We have long supported the move to bring Northamptonshire Fire and Rescue Service under the governance of the Northamptonshire Police and Crime Commissioner as it enables our local emergency services to further build on the blue light integration we’ve been working on for some time.

“As a local authority, we look forward to continuing to work with Northamptonshire Fire and Rescue Service through our Trading Standards, public health and other areas of joint working.”