A FAR reaching consultation which could see closer working between the police and the fire and rescue service has been launched by the police and crime commissioner.

Julia Mulligan says she is keen to see greater collaboration between the two services and is consulting for the next ten weeks on whether she should take on the role of the fire authority.

And, she is urging people across Craven to 'embrace change' and pull together to help protect cash strapped frontline services.

“I believe here are some real opportunities to improve the service to the public, especially the most vulnerable, and at the same time save tax-payers’ money and bolster and protect our frontline services," said Mrs Mulligan.

The consultation comes after Parliament said police and crime commissioners across the country could apply to oversee fire and rescue services as well as the police.

Mrs Mulligan believes bringing the two services together will result in increased efficiency, improved community safety and better support for vulnerable people.

But she stressed, it would not mean a merger of the two services and that they would remain separate.

"Police officers and fire officers will still have their own distinct roles, and budgets will always be kept separate. But by bringing both organisations under the same governance, we can improve things for everyone," she said.

“Here in North Yorkshire, we have some good examples of working together where the police and fire services join up to prevent harm, helping to protect vulnerable people, and improve community safety. But just a few examples are not enough. There is much more that we could, and should, be doing."

She said money saved by sharing governance could be re-invested into frontline services.

"Saving money elsewhere is how I have been able to increase frontline numbers over the last few years, and this will be no different. For a start, I would explore the opportunities of a truly joint plan for sharing police and fire stations at more than 20 sites across the county where they are already close together, including our headquarters," she said.

North Yorkshire Police recently relocated its headquarters from Newby Wiske to Alverton Court, Northallerton - a move that Mrs Mulligan says will save £10 million.

“Bringing our fire and police headquarters together into one place could further save up to £250,000 of tax-payers’ money per year, " she said.

"It’s firefighters and police officers that save lives, not buildings. But sharing buildings isn’t just about saving money. By bringing the two chief officer teams together, it would make it easier to develop a shared vision for a joint community safety plan for North Yorkshire, and oversight would be easier too, speeding up the scale and pace of change."

She added: “Change is something we must embrace. All our public services are facing financial pressures, so it is vital we pull together, pool our sovereignty and put the public first, who quite rightly expect us to seize every opportunity to protect frontline services.”

The consultation will run until September 22. To take part, visit the website telljulia.com. Leaflets and a questionnaire are also available at libraries.