Council opposes plans to merge Nottinghamshire police and fire services with neighbouring county
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Coun Joan Dixon submitted a motion to oppose the planned merger at a Derbyshire Council meeting after Coun Barry Lewis, council leader, mentioned the possibility when he announced his candidacy to become the East Midlands Mayor under a devolution deal for the region.
East Midlands county and city councils have already agreed to proceed with devolution plans to transfer national Government powers to Local Government which supporters claim could bring in millions of pounds for the region under an East Midlands regional authority.
Coun Dixon told the meeting: “We went through a consultation about the proposed devolution deal and asked about housing, transport, net zero, skills, and public health. At no point was the proposed merger of the police and fire service included and had there been there would have been a stronger outcry about the devolution deal.”
“There is a democratic deficit here. The people of Derbyshire have not been consulted on this.”
She said a proposed merger of these emergency services under an East Midlands authority would see the larger cities benefit, while other communities would see monies drained away from them and going into these cities, affecting safety.
She argued that under an East Midlands emergency services merger, resources would be targeted where they are most needed and, after referring to Nottingham’s reputation as ‘Shottingham’ because of its reported gun crime, she fears this could lead to a further drain away from Derbyshire.
She also acknowledged that even though Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire fire & rescue services already share some services, she argued more Derbyshire fire appliances cross into Nottinghamshire than the other way around.
Coun Dixon, leader of the opposition Labour Group, said: “We need to take a stand and oppose the proposal. It has not been consulted upon by the people of Derbyshire and it is dangerous.”
She further argued that the merger of either Derbyshire police or fire services with Nottinghamshire police and fire services would not be in the best interests of Derbyshire residents, would not improve community safety or provide financial efficiencies, and would negatively affect the performance of both Derbyshire services.
Coun Simon Spencer, deputy council leader, agreed the council should take a stand in opposition to the proposed merger, arguing Derbyshire is best-served by its current police and fire service set-up.
Coun Spencer requested an amendment that the council not only opposes the merger, but also expresses its views to the Government.
He said: “It makes clear the council’s opposition to the proposal with regard to the merging of the two services and we will take action and write to the Government regarding that particular position and the position the council finds itself in.”
The council voted in favour of opposing the possible merger of the police and fire services and in favour of writing to the Government to express the view of the council.
Local councils will not be scrapped or merged under the devolution deal and they will still oversee many public services, but the new East Midlands Combined Authority would deal with broader issues like transport, regeneration and employment.