I am glad the Observer has covered the county council’s campaign to stop the Police & Crime Commissioner taking control of our fire & rescue service.
Unfortunately, your enthusiasm has allowed the accuracy I expect from the Observer series to slip.
The so called ‘continuous improvement’ is actually deterioration.
The council has removed one in four of the county’s fire engines, and people now wait longer for help to arrive.
They fail to meet response standards at one in every four critical incidents.
Despite repeated assurances that retained fire engine availability would improve, their efforts have seen some, that used to achieve 100 per cent availability, now only available for 30 per cent of the time.
Slogans are not enough, WSCC need to demonstrate that the fire and rescue service is ‘safer in their hands’.
The council must remove their rose tinted spectacles and replace spin with a solid case.
The principal government objectives are to improve accountability and transparency, and to improve emergency service collaboration.
Issues where WSCC is lagging behind other fire authorities.
A councillor said the service should not be run by a ‘one person fire authority’, but that is effectively what West Sussex has.
The cabinet member may be questioned by councillors, but he makes all the decisions.
WSCC has also backed away from closer working with other emergency services in favour of inward looking integration.
The fire service won’t be safer in the PCC’s hands, but slogans and petitions won’t stop it happening, especially if the PCC ignores petitions like WSCC do!