Verdict of Judicial Review of fire service governance

Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Fire Authority has expressed huge disappointment at the news it has not been successful in its fight to prevent the transfer of governance of the fire and rescue service to the Police and Crime Commissioner.

The outcome of the judicial review, which took place last month, was announced and the judge has upheld the Home Office’s decision to allow the Police and Crime Commissioner to take over governance of Cambridgeshire Fire and Rescue Service from the Fire Authority.

The Fire Authority has always believed that the Police and Crime Commissioner’s business case, which the decision was based on, contained insufficient evidence to prove the case for what it believes is going to be a costly and unnecessary change in governance arrangements that reduces public accountability of the fire service.

Chairman of the Fire Authority, Councillor Kevin Reynolds, said: “I know I speak for the whole Fire Authority when I say that we are hugely disappointed with the outcome of the judicial review. We sought a judicial review as we believe the fire authority and fire and rescue service in Cambridgeshire work extremely well together as a governance model and no reason had been demonstrated to change that in either the business case, or the documentation we received from the Home Office to explain their decision to rule in favour of the Police and Crime Commissioner.

“As a Fire Authority, we have always believed we have an efficient and effective fire and rescue service and since we sought the judicial review, the government-commissioned HMICFRS inspection has assessed us to be ‘Good’ in efficiency and effectiveness. In fact, we are only one of two out of 30 fire services so far inspected by the HMICFRS to not get a single area that has been classified as requiring improvement. Surely that demonstrates that what we are doing and how we operate now is working well. I could understand it if we were poorly performing but we’re not. We’re one of the best fire and rescue services in the country but that doesn’t seem to count for anything. It’s all just so frustrating.”

He added: “We had already submitted an application for a second judicial review prior to the hearing in June, based on new information, and so now we will seek legal advice about whether to continue to pursue that or what other options there may be for us now.”