POLICE and Crime Commissioner Julia Mulligan will take on the governance of North Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service.

The Home Secretary has announced today that Mrs Mulligan's business case, which was submitted to the Home Office last September, had been accepted, and work will now start for her to formally take on governance of the fire service later this year.

Mrs Mulligan's business case set out more than £6m of savings, and included cuts to senior management roles, collaboration between North Yorkshire Police and the fire service on back office support services, and increased sharing buildings between the two services.

She said: "First of all I would like to thank the North Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service for the excellent work they do in keeping the people of North Yorkshire safe. There is a lot to do, but I am very much looking forward to working with them, and I thank them for their help, and for being so candid during last summer’s roadshows.

"I’m pleased that the Home Secretary has recognised the benefits that joint oversight of police and fire services will bring to the people of North Yorkshire. By bringing both organisations under the same governance, we can increase the speed and depth at which we collaborate, improve transparency and efficiency of both organisations, saving at least £6.6m, to be reinvested into frontline policing and fire services."

Legislation passed by Parliament meant PCCs could take over local Fire Authorities where the public and local authorities agree and support the idea, but the idea was met with some controversy in North Yorkshire, with the County Council and the Fire Authority opposing the idea.

Mrs Mulligan said: "This process has not been without controversy, and I would like to thank and acknowledge all the councillors and MPs that have contributed to, and scrutinised, my business case and consultation to make sure that this was a robust process. I’d also like thank the public for their clear support - we received over 2,500 responses to our consultation, of which 71 per cent preferred PCC-led oversight."

Cllr Ashley Mason, who sits on the Police and Crime Panel, said he was disappointed by the announcement, which he said would lead to "reduced local scrutiny of the fire service".

He said: "This is an issue that many of us locally, from all political parties, have worked hard to prevent. It is important to reiterate, there is still great concern regarding the PCC’s takeover of the fire service, including the loss of local input from York councillors and the reduced local scrutiny of the fire service.

"Whilst we all agree that further collaboration between public services should be increased to the benefit of local communities, no detailed assessments have been undertaken by the PCC's office to the impact of the takeover; the business case was not assessed for the minister by fire services professionals and most importantly, contingencies must be put in place if all does not go according to plan. York and North Yorkshire already has effective and strong leadership in charge of the local Fire Authority, and today’s decision could potentially undermine this."

Cllr Mason also called for "immediate details on how the proposed takeover is intended to work, with a full risk analysis" from the Government and the PCC.

City of York Council's Labour Fire Authority member, Cllr Danny Myers said Mrs Mulligan's outlined savings were "unrealistic and have been set out to garner support from her Government for a predatory takeover of the Fire Service".

He said: "Instead of having distinct governance on the Fire Authority, where Labour has successfully fought reductions in fire crews and vehicle capabilities, we have everything moving across to one person who could now take an axe to fire cover in York.

"Fire services in York could be the first for review and Labour is clear that we will not accept further reductions and fewer fire engines covering York. This is a huge concern in terms of effective fire and rescue service coverage across the whole of our city. Mrs Mulligan may have got her way in the face of opposition from local representatives and everything local accountability suggests is best for this vital public service, but she will face significant battles in the future as and when these cuts are brought forward."