Fire Board Vice-Convenor Criticises 'Lost Opportunity'

>> 25 November 2012

The Vice-Convener of Grampian Fire & Rescue Joint Board, Peterhead South & Cruden councillor Stephen Smith, has expressed disappointment at the decision by Aberdeenshire Council to relegate police and fire issues to an agenda item on the council’s busy Policy & Resources Committee.

With the existing police and fire boards being wound-up at the end of March next year, new arrangements are being put in place to ensure the Scottish Government’s aim of more local scrutiny and accountability over police and fire matters. 

At Thursday’s meeting of the Full Council, Cllr Smith spoke in favour of setting up a new committee to deal not only with police and fire issues but also community safety and emergency planning.  This was defeated by a proposal from the council’s Administration Group, supported by Labour, that such issues be subsumed into the Policy & Resources Committee.

Commenting, Vice-Convener of Grampian Fire & Rescue Joint Board Cllr Stephen Smith said:

“I’m disappointed the council’s Administration Group has opted to go down this route.

“I don’t think it’s treating the police and fire services with the level of attention they deserve if we simply make them an agenda item in an already busy committee.  We owed it to the staff and the general public to have a robust system in place for scrutiny and governance arrangements locally.

“In particular, today’s decision means that there is very limited scope for the views of staff bodies such as the Fire Brigades Union to engage with councillors under the new arrangements.

“This is a lost opportunity to put in place a new system which would have led to increased transparency and a greater level of engagement on police and fire issues.”

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