THE chairman of the area’s Police and Crime Panel has said he hopes a bid by the police and crime commissioner to take on governance of North Yorkshire’s fire and rescue service will fail.

Councillor Carl Les, chairman of the North Yorkshire Police and Crime Panel, told Craven councillors both unitary authorities and all district councils - with the exception of Harrogate - were opposed to proposals by commissioner Julia Mulligan to assume joint governance of the fire service.

Five PCCs across the country submitted business cases to the Home Office to take on governance of their area’s fire services - three were recently approved, and two, including from Mrs Mulligan, are expected at any time.

Cllr Les, who is also leader of North Yorkshire County Council, told Craven District Council’s meeting of its Select Crime and Disorder Committee that Mrs Mulligan’s business case claimed she had ‘wide spread support’ from the public.

He said: “North Yorkshire and York have said they don’t agree, all district councils have said they don’t agree with it, apart from Harrogate, which is neutral, and all Yorkshire MPs are against it. We would hope that with that level of objection, the minister will suggest to the PCC that she take a seat on the fire authority instead.”

Cllr Peter Madeley, Craven’s representative on the panel, said if Mrs Mulligan’s business case was approved, she would assume operational control of the fire service, unlike with the police service, for which she has a governing function.

“We were all against it, and hope that the minister takes that into consideration. It is a big step and one that we certainly don’t want to take,” he said.

Mrs Mulligan has said she believes a decision on her business case by the Home Office was delayed because her case was submitted late than the others. She has also said she believes it is likely a decision will now not be made until after the local elections on May 3.

Cllr Les told the meeting that the panel had very limited powers and could be described as a ‘toothless tiger’. But, one of its duties was to review and possibly veto the PCC’s proposals for setting the police precept.

He said the panel had agreed to Mrs Mulligan’s £11.50p increase on an average property - 50p less than she was allowed to do by central government - on her assurance that she would put £3 million into improving the non emergency 101 number and that she would maintain current police numbers.

Cllr Les said the panel had been told officer numbers would be maintained, but added it was not necessary that all officers had power of arrest, and could be used in the growing area of cyber crime.