Residents, communities, businesses and organisations are being asked by West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA) to have their say on how West Midlands Fire Service should be run in the future.
People are being asked to take part in an eight-week consultation on a number of aspects of the future running of WMFS, while ensuring people’s safety remains at the heart of everything it does.
The consultation runs from 11 January until 8 March, after which people’s views will be fed back to the Home Office and any changes to how the service is run are likely to be implemented in 2019.
For more information and to take part in the consultation, please visit the WMCA website
This also forms part of the WMCA’s strategy to improve the quality of life for everyone in the West Midlands. Part of WMCA’s Strategic Economic Plan shows how devolved powers and resources will help to deliver a stronger West Midlands with a focus on skills, innovation, transport and inward investment.
The consultation follows an independent review which looked at how WMFS is currently governed and at how a new governance model might impact on the community, deliver improved public services, improve scrutiny, transparency and accountability, while providing value for money.
It was felt that governance under the Mayoral WMCA would be the best option, helping WMFS meet its vision: ‘Making the West Midlands Safer, Stronger and Healthier’.
A scheme was then put together detailing how WMFS would operate within the Combined Authority and who would be responsible for making decisions.
If the changes were to be agreed, the Mayor of the West Midlands Andy Street, would become the single point of accountability for the fire service, rather than the Fire Authority. There would also be a Fire Advisory Committee – made up of councillors, the Police and Crime Commissioner, and Health and Ambulance Trusts – which will advise and support the mayor, while reviewing and scrutinising decisions.
The Mayor would approve the community safety plan, have responsibility for budgeting, setting the fire Council Tax precept and appoint the Chief Fire Officer.
The Chief Fire Officer would report directly to the Mayor, while continuing to lead and manage the service – both day to day and delivering strategic aims. This includes staff development, management of resources such fleet, equipment, and very importantly, delivering the fire service’s long term strategic aims.
The WMCA is made up of seven local authorities from across the region which have voting rights – known as constituent members – which vote on policies and plans to help improve the West Midlands. There are also a number of non-constituent members and Local Enterprise Partnerships. There are also representatives from police and health.
Benefits of moving under the combined authority include a more joined up way of working with local authorities, health providers and the police, while having a shared vision for the region. In addition, public services will be delivered at a reduced cost in a more coordinated, integrated and collaborative way.
Organisations across the region would work more closely together, including sharing space in buildings, better emergency planning and sharing of information. Moving under the Mayoral Combined Authority would not change the type of incidents and emergencies attended by WMFS.