Plaid leader rejects government reform of Wales’ fire authorities

11/02/2019

Plaid Cymru’s group on Caerphilly council has rejected Welsh Government plans to change the way Fire & Rescue Authorities (FRAs) in Wales are run.

Responding to the consultation, group leader Councillor Colin Mann said: “We believe that this review is not necessary in the absence of any evidence that Fire Services are not performing well. 

“The service is democratically responsible to the Fire Authority which is drawn from a representative number of councillors from the relevant councils in the area.”

He argued that FRAs  should remain as separate and distinct entities, with the same boundaries as now.

“Past experience has shown that boundary changes usually prove costly and don’t in fact realise the forecast savings.  There needs to be a very strong cost/benefit analysis prior to any changes being proposed/implemented.”

He said that transferring control of fire and rescue services to Police and Crime Commissioners or local authorities would not be appropriate?

“It needs to be remembered that, as yet, policing is not devolved to Wales although we strongly feel that it should be.”

Councillor Colin Mann also rejected the idea of an involvement of Welsh Ministers in the level of FRAs funding every year.

“I am a former member of South Wales FRA serving for a period of 12 years both as a Cabinet and non-Cabinet member.  In my experience the councillors on the FRA always had a keen regard for the amount of precept they would be charging the local authorities.  We fail to see what improvement the intervention of a Minister would bring.

“A Minister would not have the detailed knowledge to make relevant decisions.  This has been proved in Caerphilly CBC where Ministers have made decisions with no apparent regard to local opinion or the local democratic process.”