Peers will today debate controversial moves to allow North Yorkshire’s crime commissioner to take control of the county’s fire service despite being rejected by numerous authorities.
Home Secretary Sajid Javid in June approved plans to allow Julia Mulligan to become North Yorkshire’s Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner to save £6.6m over 10 years.
But it was rejected last year by authorities including York Council and North Yorkshire County Council, the latter of which said it felt the business case was “flawed”.
Mrs Mulligan was also last month found to have displayed “endemic” bullying behaviour towards staff by the Police and Crime Panel which oversees her work, although the commissioner said she would have appealed if the option was open to her.
Liberal Democrat peer Baroness Pinnock has tabled a “motion to regret” the order which allowed Mrs Mulligan to take over fire services, which will be debated in the House of Lords today.
She said she would look to explore “whether or not it is right for a single politician to take over an important public service” when “all relevant councils oppose the move”.
She went on: “It removes a democratic accountability aspect from a publicly funded services. Then, on top of the policy issues, there is the scandal surrounding the current incumbent.”
Responding, Mrs Mulligan said: ““By bringing both North Yorkshire Police and North Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service under the same governance, we can increase the speed and depth at which we collaborate, improve transparency and efficiency of both organisations and ensure savings are reinvested into frontline policing and fire services.
“I know this process has been controversial, but the independent report from Oxfordshire Chief Fire Officer Dave Etheridge OBE published this week shows how much of a mess the finances are in and why it is so important for there to be a proper, transparent plan to ensure the Service has a strong and sustainable future. This is not the case at present as crucial decisions have been put off in the past, and the challenge I inherit is significant and worse than expected when this process began.”