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Surprise at poll in support of Shropshire fire takeover

By Dominic Robertson | Politics | Published:

The chairman of Shropshire’s Fire Authority said he was surprised at poll results which show people are in favour of a joint police and fire commissioner for the region.

Eric Carter, chairman of Shropshire Fire Authority, has questioned whether the public had known that the fire service is planning to make more than £2 million of savings before they responded.

John Campion, police and crime commissioner for West Mercia, has claimed he can save £4.2m across the services if his role is expanded to include Shropshire, Herefordshire, and Worcestershire fire authorities. That claim has been cited as a central reason for the public support of the plan.

The results of a consultation carried out by Mr Campion showed that 60.7 per cent of the 1,307 people who responded are in favour of single PCC governance.

The figures showed that 67 per cent of people who backed the plans saidying that financial considerations were the reason.

Mr Carter said: “I am surprised. When I read the media release and I see the main reason the majority of people seem to be in favour is because of financial considerations.

“It depends what the public perceive as the main financial considerations. Are we referring to the £4.2m in the business case, which we have discussed at a number of meetings as being incorrect as they do also contain savings being made through the fire service already?

“While I am not saying it is untrue that the public are looking at financial considerations I am saying what are they basing it on? Are they getting the right information?”

Mr Campion’s office is now in the process of assessing the responses before deciding whether to go through with the bid.

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If he does, then the decision on whether to approve it will be taken by the Government. Mr Campion has said that the results are clear and show people are in favour of the plan.

Mr Campion said: “I have engaged with thousands of people on this subject over the last few months in a number of different ways and I am grateful to everyone who took part in the consultation.

“Their message is clear: Our communities expect their emergency services to collaborate properly in order to improve services and they want resources prioritised towards vital frontline officers and equipment.”

Mr Carter has said that he would prefer to have discussions with Mr Campion over governance changes to the services, rather than letting the government decide.

He said: “He said: “I am very much open to discussing this in an office face-to-face, on the radio, on television, to see if we can come up with a mutual agreement.”

“My main concern is ensuring the fire service going forward is as effective as it has been for the last few years.”

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