01 June 2016
Plans for the Sussex police and crime commissioner to assume responsibility for fire services in East and West Sussex have been rebuffed by the local council.
The Sussex PCC Katy Bourne laid out her intention for emergency services to co-operate more closely in the region, off the back of the plans confirmed by Home Secretary Theresa May last week.
In a letter to West Sussex County Council leader Louise Goldsmith and Phil Howson, East Sussex Fire Authority chairman, Ms Bourne requested they begin to look at the feasibility of bringing both fire services under her authority, report the BBC.
"Just as we have one police force that effectively manages the county, we need to understand if one fire service not two could achieve the same," she said.
East Sussex's fire authority said it would co-operate with the PCC but it believed collaboration could be achieved without structural change.
Ms Bourne's letter, however, was met with cross-party opposition from the council.
Ms Goldsmith said West Sussex fire service was already integrated within the council and served communities.
She added last year's Shoreham air disaster showed how West Sussex emergency services already worked together.
East Sussex Fire Authority said it was willing to co-operate with the PCC to determine whether proposals could improve delivery of services and create efficiencies.
In a statement to the BBC, it said: "[The fire authority] believes whilst close collaboration between the emergency services is essential, it can be achieved without elaborate structural change.
"It is also the fire authority's considered view that it is more accountable to the community it serves because its members are elected councillors."