There is a ongoing conversation regarding the Police and Crime Commissioner in Essex subsuming the Essex Fire Authority, in effect a merger. This will ensure the one person will be responsible for two of the emergency services in Essex. I remind everyone that this is a political role.
This change is being driven by the Government's agenda of cuts. Whilst operational reasons are being put forward, it comes down to money. I do not believe that this is the sort of cut desired by most of Southend-on-Sea's residents.
Austerity measures has not prevented the Government racking up record-breaking debt, so just what is austerity achieving?
The backdrop is of a rise in crime. Using the British Crime Survey's basket of crimes we are witnessing a near 10% rise in reported crimes. I am far from convinced that making governance more remote will help tackle crime, and this certainly diminishes democratic oversight. Residents I speak to want to influence policing decisions, and they do this through their elected representatives. They also want to be assured of their safety - wanting the Police and a Fire Service that responds to their needs. I do not understand how a merger of police and fire satisfies these wishes.
There are also issues with the cuts to the Fire Service, and more cuts to come will be a challenge. It is a good job that the roads in Essex are getting less busy (sic). The current governance via the EFA works, tinkering with this to satisfy a Government intent on diminishing public service is a recipe for disaster.
Workforce moral in both the Police and Fires Service is acknowledge to be at an all-time low. That these two blue-light services often cooperate is no reason to allow political influence to grow. This is a move motivated not by the needs of a growing Essex, it is motivated by a political agenda, and it is wrong.
The transfer is scheduled for October 2017.