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Labour calls for public say on fire service merger plans

Labour councillors in York are calling on the public to have its say on plans by North Yorkshire’s Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) to take over the running of the county’s Fire Service.

Commissioner Julia Mulligan has already put her plans to North Yorkshire County Council and City of York Council’s top scrutiny and Executive committees, with all three opposing the plans.  In each case the relevant committees have backed North Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service’s alternative option of admitting Julia Mulligan to sit on the service’s main decision making body – North Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Authority.
Coun. Danny Myers, Leader of Labour Group on the Authority said: "The Labour Group reject the Governance model put forward by Police and Crime Commissioner, but it should come as no surprise that we welcome some of the points made in the PCCs Business Case such as revisiting front line fire cover - these are policies that Labour has long fought for on the North Yorkshire Fire Authority.
"Labour led the opposition to the Fire Cover Review in 2015 and was the only party that voted against the budget this year which is seeing savage cuts reduce the number of whole-time firefighters and reduce the availability of fire engines.
"The Fire Authority certainly isn't perfect and is currently dominated by the Tories, but when it comes to defending the fire service in York, we have a loud Labour voice on the Authority that opposes austerity and focuses on the frontline, which is essential in protecting York from the type of cuts that have seen smaller fire vehicles like the TRV introduced in Malton and Ripon.
"Public services should look far different after the next local elections, when we hope to see more North Yorkshire elected Labour Councillors sitting on a Fire Authority that invests in the fire service and doesn't concern itself with political squabbles about governance. 
“Whatever the outcome of future governance options, it is absolutely crucial for fire cover in York that we see an urgent change in direction on these key issues."
The public is being urged to respond before the consultation deadline of 22 September through forms that can be found at fire and police stations, council offices and libraries across York and North Yorkshire.  The public can also feed in their views online at: www.telljulia.com
Councillors across York and North Yorkshire have expressed concerns about the lack of clarity on how oversight through the Police and Crime Panel would work were the Fire Service to be brought under the PCC.  There is no suggestion of extra resources nor the appointment of more councillors to perform the important role of both monitoring performance and holding the PCC to account.
Coun. Myers said he felt this would lead to a lack of proper oversight that the Fire Service currently enjoys.

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