Wednesday, 21 October 2015

Objecting to possible merger/take-over of Fire Authority by Policy Authority

There is a government consultation on closer working between 'blue light' services


Contained within it is the possibility that the Police and Crime commissioner takes over the Avon Fire Service. 

This is the response from myself and Gus Hoyt..... 

This response comes from Councillors Charlie Bolton and Gus Hoyt, serving as Green Party members on the Avon Fire Authority, and also as councillors on Bristol City Council.



As Greens we are appalled at the cuts which have been and are still being implemented on the Fire service. The Fire service saves lives, is highly regarded and we believe has been under sustained, ideologically motivated attack. We believe that the government should commit now to halting cuts to this valued and vital service. We further believe that the Fire Service, along with Police needs to be properly funded.


As Green Party members of the Avon Fire Authority, we register our opposition to the possibility of a merger of the authority with the Police Authority.


We support many of the reasons given by the Avon Fire Authority in its submission also opposing the possibility of a merger, namely:


  • Existing governance arrangements work well
  • Boundaries between the authorities do not match
  • There will be difficulties aligning council tax amounts
  • There are differing electoral arrangements in place over the area
  • There is already some effective collaborative working between authorities, however the proposal will make it harder to form other working partnerships
  • Practical issues merging back office functions which are in different arrangements (ie outsourced or not) with different contractual arrangements
  • Practical staffing issues re TUPE


In addition to these, we believe that combining the authorities would also require a significant beefing up of scrutiny functions to meet any new organisation (unless the intention is to dispense with such democratic oversite).


We further draw to the your attention to the fact that there are many examples of attempts to merge systems, computerised or other – which intend  to make economies of scale – end up either failing completely, or result in a more complex (and costly) solution. We further point out to those suggesting ‘private sector management methods’ that HBOS and RBS were private  businesses, using such techniques -   who failed in spectacular fashion.  In other words, there are big dangers as well as opportunities.


We point out that merging organisations can frequently lead to additional bureaucracy, and which in itself leads to inefficiencies. One of the benefits of the current organisation of the Fire Authority is its relatively simple structure which allows it to concentrate on its ‘core business’ of keeping people safe and putting out fires. A merger could jeopardise this.


Finally, we – as Greens – support decentralisation of power to the lowest level. A merger, and in particular, a merger of the power structure represents a centralisation of power which we oppose.


Friday, 9 October 2015

Letter to the editor 20mph, Association of British Drivers

Dear Sir


I’d like to thank Bob Bull of the Alliance of British Drivers. He writes to ask for ‘driver improvement classes’ (Post letters, 8/10/15). As such, he clearly believes that numbers of drivers in this city have habits which are clearly not up to scratch.


Actually, personally, I think that the vast majority of motorists try to drive in a way which is considerate to other road users. Indeed I have been told that in the area that I represent, something like 85% of motorists either stick to or close to the 20mph speed limit.


However, Mr Bull’s idea that 20mph should only be close to schools is quite wrong. First off, the vast majority of accidents to children take place away from  the area around a school.  Secondly, children – with their parents walk – or cycle – to school and back home.


If we wish to protect children, we must surely protect them everywhere. That means significant areas of slower, safer speeds in a wide area around schools, in residential areas and on walking routes. That’s just one of the reasons why a widespread 20mph area is so important. And of course, as Public Health England tell us ‘physical inactivity is  the 4th largest cause of disease in the UK’.


Finally, can I just urge your readers to sign the petition in support of 20mph (Link: