'Victory for common sense' as Bucks fire control room will not move to Cambridge (From Bucks Free Press)
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'Victory for common sense' as Bucks fire control room will not move to Cambridge
A DECISION to move the Bucks 999 fire control room to a Thames Valley group instead of Cambridgeshire has been hailed a victory for common sense.
There was outcry earlier in the year when plans were announced to move the Bucks Fire and Rescue control room in Aylesbury to Huntingdon.
At a special meeting of the Buckinghamshire and Milton Keynes Fire Authority today it was agreed to change its preferred provider to a Thames Valley collaboration with Royal Berkshire and Oxfordshire.
At last night's Princes Risborough Town Council meeting councillors expressed their delight at the proposed decision with one cllr saying they were the only one with the guts to take it on.
The town council was one of the only councils in south Bucks which campaigned against the move.
In August councillors Gary Hall, Alan Turner, John Coombs and Buckingham MP John Bercow met with the chief fire officer, Mark Jones to express their concern.
Cllr Hall said: "We told him we didn't want the fire control room to go to Cambridge. It would make far more sense to go to the three counties and he has done exactly that."
He then condemned Wycombe District Council, as he said at a meeting in March Cllr Turner asked for full council to support PRTC to keep the control room in Bucks.
But leader of WDC, Alex Collingwood, disagreed with his assessment and said he believed the move would not affect front line services.
Cllr Coombs said: "We were the only council in the district and as far as I am aware the only council in Bucks with the guts to take it up.
"We saw early on it wasn't going to work".
Cllr Hall said it was a victory for common sense and he found Mark Jones to be a man of honour.
Vice-chairman of Bucks and Milton Keynes Fire Authority and control room project spokesman Cllr Andy Dransfield said after the meeting today that the date of the proposed changeover to Cambridgeshire was slipping from April 2013 towards 2014.
He said as they could also not agree on cost-sharing and governance arrangements Mr Jones sought other possible ways of securing a long-term deal which would best serve the county.
Executive committee vice-chairman Ccllr Adrian Busby said: "The proposed financial deal with the Thames Valley partnership allows all three organisations to improve services and make significant savings, and that has to be a good thing."
Mr Jones said when they chose the preferred provider last year,there were few known facts about the potential for a Thames Valley collaboration, but has time has progressed more figures have become clear.
He said the public will notice no difference other than reduced cost and a modernised system.
He added: "Thankfully, there has been minimal wasted effort and cost because most of the work done so far was required in any case."
Last year’s decision to outsource the control room follows the cancellation of a project to replace the 46 fire service control rooms in England with nine regional centres, which was launched in 2003 by the previous government.
Mr Jones added: "I would love to say that it was all down to Princes Risborough Town Council, but in reality it was a lot more complicated than that! However, we were very grateful for their input and I would like to thank them for showing such a keen interest in the future of our control room."
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