THE POLICE and Crime Commissioner for Cumbria has been successful in his bid to govern the fire service and in his first interview since the announcement he has revealed that negotiations are underway with Government for a funding settlement.

Cumbria’s Police and Crime Commissioner Peter McCall is set to take over governance of the fire and rescue service in April 2023 when the county council is abolished and replaced by two new unitary councils.

Mr McCall’s office submitted the bid to govern Cumbria Fire and Rescue Service earlier this year due to the imminent reorganisation of seven existing councils into two unitary authorities.

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Other options for the fire service after the county council is abolished included for it to be governed by the two new councils, jointly or separately, or the creation of a Fire Authority.

But the Home Office decided to add CFRS to Mr McCall’s duties.

Mr McCall told the Local Democracy Reporting Service: “It won’t be a surprise that whilst the Home Secretary has made her decision, I have still put a caveat on my accepting of the responsibility.

“We must get a reasonable and appropriate financial settlement to ensure the fire service is sustainable into the future.

“I’ve had quite a lot of engagement with the Home Office over the last few weeks who are working with us to try and resolve this and I’m reasonably confident we can do a deal.”

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The Fire Brigade Union has previously called for Mr McCall to drop his bid to take over CFRS, claiming that it would lead to the closure of three fire stations.

The FBU also believe there is a lack of accountability for Police Fire and Crime tsars 'which are only subject to a weak scrutiny panel.'

But Mr McCall said: “It was never in doubt in my mind as to whether Government would accept the business case.

“Neither of the two unitaries have put themselves forward to take fire on.”

The PCC said that if either council had, he would have been satisfied with that arrangement.

He said that transferring governance is 'the easy bit'; making arrangements for IT and admin will take more time.

“We need to take that time because it’s important there’s no interruption to the front-line fire service.”

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