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FIRE SERVICE WHITE PAPER WELCOMED, YET ASSURANCES NEEDED

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The Welsh Local Government Association has noted with interest the publication of the Fire Service White Paper*, wh...
The Welsh Local Government Association has noted with interest the publication of the Fire Service White Paper*, which proposes devolution of fire policy to the Welsh Assembly Government.

The fire service is one of the major services provided by Welsh local government. Local authorities have been responsible for providing a fire service since 1938 and, in Wales, all three fire services are provided by combined authorities - that is, each fire authority consists of elected members nominated by the constituent local authorities in their respective areas.

In its response to the Richard Commission, which is considering the devolution settlement, the WLGA has been keen to stress the need for clarification around functions traditionally described as home office services, or in this case resting with the ODPM. There is clearly logic in this additional local government service being devolved to the assembly to link with its policy responsibility for other local government services.

Derek Rees, WLGA spokesperson for the fire authorities, said:

'This move brings total control of fire policy within the remit of the national assembly and is welcomed by the WLGA. However, the association will be seeking assurances that the existing fire service boundaries will be retained and there will be no diminution in links on national fire emergencies. We look forward to working with the assembly on the challenge of improving this key service.'

* see herefor details

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