Go-ahead for consultation over future of Herts Fire and Rescue Service

PUBLISHED: 06:59 18 December 2018

Archant

Plans for the future of the Hertfordshire Fire and Rescue Service will now go out to consultation, despite concerns that had led to a temporary halt in the process.

The draft Integrated Risk Management Plan includes proposals that could replace traditional fire engines with ‘rapid’ or ‘intermediate’ response vehicles, reduce crew sizes and consider the relocation of fire stations.

It was due to go out to public consultation this month, after being backed by the county council’s Cabinet, but plans were halted when Liberal Democrat councillors took the exceptional step of asking for the decision to be ‘called in’ – forcing a review of the decision-making.

The Lib Dems claimed the draft plan didn’t include enough of the background information that underpinned the proposals – failing to show the risk each proposal would address.

But the county council’s Overview and Scrutiny Committee has now determined the decision to go out to consultation should stand.

Executive member for community safety, Councillor Terry Hone, said the decision not to include too much information in the draft IRMP consultation document was deliberate.

He said it was designed to be a short, standalone document that could be easily read during consultation by those without significant specialist knowledge.

He said too much detail could have made it harder for readers to see the bigger picture, but that additional documents would be available online.

Chief fire officer Darryl Keen said: “We have tried to write it in a way that assumed a level of engagement and people could understand what we were trying to build towards.

“A lot of analysis is implicit and isn’t spelled out word by word.”

Lib Dem councillor John Hale said: “The issue is not whether the proposals in the IRMP are the right proposals. It’s whether they contain sufficient information for the reader to judge whether they are the right proposals and make an informed decision.”

Lib Dem councillor Barbara Gibson added: “The things that are missing are the things that make the proposals make sense.”

Conservative councillor Jonathan Kaye said that there is sufficient information to put the proposals out to consultation.

This is now being drawn up.

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