Welwyn Hatfield MP Grant Shapps withdraws support for PCC’s fire service plan
- Credit: Archant
Welwyn Hatfield’s MP has withdrawn his support for the Herts Police and Crime Commissioner’s plans to take over running of the fire service.
PCC David Lloyd submitted a business case to the Home Office last month, which sparked opposition from the borough, town and county councils.
It detailed how the Herts Fire and Rescue headquarters could be moved to the county police base in WGC, with the Hatfield and WGC fire stations being closed and folded into the joint new station.
MP Grant Shapps said: “In the original business case there was no mention of closures or change of location other than mention of control room staff and senior leadership positions moving to WGC.
“Since then there appears to have been an addendum to the original business case, which proposes ‘a commitment to public safety via co-location of police and fire stations, creating new Community Safety Hubs’.
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“It is this, I believe, which has raised concerns over merging WGC and Hatfield into one fire station at police headquarters.
“This is something that I cannot support.”
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Mr Shapps said he has now thrown his weight behind the borough council’s opposition to Mr Lloyd’s plans.
The PCC refused to rule out closing the fire stations if he gained control, but stressed it was also not a foregone conclusion, rather it is something he would consider and consult residents about.
He added it would be remiss not to assess how to improve efficiency of the fire service, and believes he is in a better financial position than the county council to make improvements.
The PCC added: “Clearly why he [Mr Shapps] has changed his view is up to him, not me. I’m not going to second guess that.
“I believe he is mistaken if he believes fire stations are more likely to close under my governance than the county council’s.
“I believe if the governance is to stay with the county council, closures of stations such as in Welwyn Hatfield are a racing certainty.”
A county council spokesman said: “Hertfordshire County Council remains unanimously opposed to the PCC’s proposal to take over the governance of the Hertfordshire Fire and Rescue service and recently wrote to the Home Office to confirm this position. We hope to hear the Home Secretary’s conclusion about this issue shortly.”