It appears that Katy Bourne, the Conservative Police & Crime Commissioner who is keen to take over the Fire & Rescue Services in Sussex, is in her own fantasy World. In a newsletter last month, she said:
"In Sussex, the two fire services already have a joint centre in Haywards Heath that handles 999 calls. This has saved £4m over 5 years and led to better attendance times and improved coordination of resources across the county."
Well that is pretty amazing for a ‘joint centre’ that has been operational for less than two years! As for her ‘better attendance times’, the last published figures showed that response times for house fires increased in West Sussex by 13% and in East Sussex by 14%. For fires in other buildings the increase in East Sussex was 16%, and for outdoor fires in West Sussex it was 17%.
Of course there is also no evidence of 'improved coordination of resources', something the previous separate controls did exceptionally well. I wrote and asked her to correct her false statements, but despite her claim to reply within 14 working days, I have heard nothing.
Fortunately, both the Labour (Michael Jones) and Liberal Democrat (James Walsh) candidates are on record as not supporting Fire & Rescue Services being taken over by Police & Crime Commissioners.
Katy Bourne should focus on the many challenges facing the Police, instead of trying to expand her empire. The two services have different functions, procedures, training and responsibilities, and their independence is vital. Both the Police and the Fire & Rescue Service will suffer if they are forced in to an arranged marriage, and it is the public who will pay the ultimate price.