Council leaders and PCC meet to discuss future of Fire Authority

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The four local authority leaders representing Bristol, Bath and North East Somerset, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire and the Police and Crime Commissioner for Avon and Somerset have met to discuss the future of Avon Fire Authority following a critical inspection report.

Last week the Home Office published an independent statutory inspection report into Avon Fire Authority.

The report carried out by Dr Craig Baker is calling for sweeping reforms in the governance, leadership and culture of Avon Fire Authority. Dr Baker said “I conclude that it is now the time for the leadership of the authority to be revitalised in order to drive improvements in economy, efficiency and effectiveness.”

The four leaders including Deputy Mayor of Bristol, Cllr Asher Craig, Bath and North East Somerset leader, Cllr Tim Warren, North Somerset leader, Cllr Nigel Ashton, South Gloucestershire leader Cllr Matthew Riddle and Police and Crime Commissioner Sue Mountstevens, today met at Police Headquarters, Portishead.

In a joint statement following the meeting they said: “We’ve all seen the inspection report and it’s highly critical of the governance, leadership and the culture of Avon Fire Authority. We have also seen the response of the current Fire Authority, which we feel does not address the failings and therefore we are not convinced that the Fire Authority can fix itself.

“As leaders we have a responsibility to our residents to ensure that the issues identified in this report are put right. We believe this can only be done with a radical restructure.

“We will form a new reduced Fire Authority in line with the report’s recommendations with the Police and Crime Commissioner.

“We have not taken this decision lightly and it is one that we have come to in the interests of residents and the many hard-working and dedicated Avon Fire and Rescue Service officers and staff who deserve strong accountability, support and reassurance.

“We will be talking to the Home Office about our choices and seeking advice about future arrangements.”