Vera Baird, Northumbria Police and Crime Commissioner has written to Northumberland County Council seeking membership of the Northumberland County Fire and Rescue Service committee.
Under the policing and crime act 2017 Police and Crime Commissioners are able to be co-opted by Councils onto Fire and Rescue Service committees to resolve issues that can lead towards managing the precept of the Police in a better and more cost effective fashion. Commissioner Baird has already been invited by the Tyne and Wear authorities to join their Fire Authority.
On Wednesday 24th January 2018 at the Tory dominated Communities and Place overview and scrutiny panel chaired by the Con-Dem Tory collaborator Councillor Jeff Reid, Councillor Eileen Armstrong moved a wholly political motion to keep Commissioner Baird off the fire and rescue service committee.
The rationale behind Councillor Armstrong’s motion that led to the decision of the scrutiny panel to reject her as a co-opted member of the Fire and Rescue Service, is that the Chief Constable and Chief Fire Officer already collaborate together.
The Police and Crime Commissioner being on the committee is far more than that and her office have made the Councils Head of Legal Service, Mr Henry aware of this.
The other point for rejection from the politicised scrutiny panel, was because the Police and Crime Commissioner had never attended the committee previously she should not be co-opted onto the Council,– this is not a requirement of the legislation its a rule that the committee imposed themselves, which has no bearing on the application under the current legislation.
Northumberland Labour Group Leader Grant Davey said :”I believe that this is yet another action by Northumberland Conservatives 'secret society' and the politically motivated decision will put residents at risk. Putting party political gain before community safety shows how hollow Tory claims to be even interested in communities other than their favourites. It shows how scrutiny doesn’t work in Northumberland. These shameful decisions are becoming ever more common place and are damaging the reputation of a Council that fears questions being put to it.”
Commissioner Baird said “I am really disappointed that this Conservative Council have gone against their own government when implementing this legislation. There are many benefits to the Police and Crime Commissioner being a member of the Fire and Rescue Committee. The current leadership are alienating our partners, interpreting legislation in a way that suits their political outcome. This has to stop and the Cabinet need to put Northumberland and our Fire and Rescue Service first”