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Crime Commissioner calls on Shropshire fire service to reveal spending on legal battle

By Aimee Jones | Politics | Published:

West Mercia's Police and Crime Commissioner is calling on Shropshire's fire service to reveal how much public money it intends to spend on a legal battle.

Councillor Eric Carter, left, and John Campion

Last month a High Court judge ruled that plans to transfer the control of the fire service to the region's crime commissioner, John Campion, will go ahead.

Mr Campion wants there to be a single joint commissioner for West Mercia Police, Shropshire Fire and Rescue and Hereford and Worcester Fire and Rescue.

He says the plans will save £4 million and will help drive transformation across both services.

But despite the ruling, the Fire Authority has vowed to continue to challenge.

In a letter to the authority's chairman Eric Carter, Mr Campion said: "I am concerned that in spite of the clear, unambiguous ruling of a High Court Judge, your remarks in subsequent media coverage suggest your authority still seem intent on continuing to divert tens of thousands of pounds in public money away from frontline fire services to fight the government on this issue.

See also:

Police and Crime Commissioner wins fight to take over Shropshire fire authority

Shropshire fire authority to survey public over fighting crime commissioner takeover

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"The Fire Authority should now be transparent with the public as to how much money intended for fire services has now been spent on this legal challenge, and how much more is budgeted, set aside or otherwise authorised for challenging the transition to single governance."

He has asked Mr Carter to provide him with copies of any reports that were given to authority members to aid their deliberations when considering challenging the Home Secretary's decision to chance fire governenance and the total budget allocated to legal challenges.

Mr Campion has also requested a copy of the original decision instructing officers to proceed with a judicial review application, confirmation that all authority members were aware of the estimated cost and confirmation that the authority followed proper constitutional processes.

"Throughout this process I have remained respectful of the Fire Authority and their prerogative to adopt a different view on the issues raised," he added.

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"However, I could not maintain that position around any further attempt to extend this dispute. Such action would only take more precious resource away from vital frontline services and could be perceived as self-preservation of the Fire Authority rather than acting in the best interests of our communities.

"I hope that in light of the judgment handed down in court that the Fire Authority can now finally support the transition to single governance rather than continue to inhibit it. I hope to work constructively with you towards that end in the weeks and months ahead."

Mr Carter said the Fire Authority is working on a response to Mr Campion's letter.

Aimee Jones

By Aimee Jones
@aimeejones_star

Senior reporter based at the Shropshire Star's Shrewsbury office, covering Shrewsbury, North Shropshire and South Shropshire.

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