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Avon PCC to assume control of “reduced” fire authority

27 July 2017

THE POLICE and Crime Commissioner (PCC) in Avon and Somerset is set to assume control of Avon Fire Authority following a damning report on the authority by the Home Office.

The four local authority leaders representing Bristol, Bath and North East Somerset, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire and the Police and Crime Commissioner for Avon and Somerset have met to discuss the future of Avon Fire Authority following a critical inspection report. The Home Office report carried out by Dr Craig Baker highlighted concerns of a bullying culture and accused the authority of being run for the benefit of senior officers.

Dr Baker called for sweeping reforms in the governance, leadership and culture of Avon Fire Authority. He said “I conclude that it is now the time for the leadership of the authority to be revitalised in order to drive improvements in economy, efficiency and effectiveness.”

Following the meeting to discuss the report it was decided that Avon and Somerset PCC Sue Mountstevens would take over responsibility for a “reduced” Avon Fire Authority. In a joint statement following the meeting they said: “We’ve all seen the inspection report and it’s highly critical of the governance, leadership and the culture of Avon Fire Authority. We have also seen the response of the current Fire Authority, which we feel does not address the failings and therefore we are not convinced that the Fire Authority can fix itself.

“As leaders we have a responsibility to our residents to ensure that the issues identified in this report are put right. We believe this can only be done with a radical restructure.

“We will form a new reduced Fire Authority in line with the report’s recommendations with the Police and Crime Commissioner.

“We have not taken this decision lightly and it is one that we have come to in the interests of residents and the many hard-working and dedicated Avon Fire and Rescue Service officers and staff who deserve strong accountability, support and reassurance.

“We will be talking to the Home Office about our choices and seeking advice about future arrangements.”