From the Oxford Mail...
MERGING the control of Oxfordshire Fire and Rescue with Thames Valley Police would save money and improve services, the region's new Deputy Police and Crime Commissioner has said.
Over the next four years Matt Barber has pledged to speed government plans to collaborate the running of both the police force and fire service.
Also the Conservative leader for Vale of White Horse District Council, he said a move to put the Police and Crime Commissioner in control of the fire service in the county was a 'bit a of no brainer'.
In his first interview since being appointed deputy to current PCC Anthony Stansfeld, Mr Barber told the Oxford Mail he was keen to progress talks regarding potential changes.
He also pledged to maintain good neighbourhood policing and promote easier ways for members of the public to report crime through social media and email, but said it would be a big project which would require 'proper treatment'.
Mr Barber said: "The Government has made pretty clear they want that to happen and I'm very keen to take that on.
"There are some obvious things to be done around the collaboration with the fire service and I think for the public, it's a bit of a no brainer really.
"There are really easy ways to save some money and also improve services.
"It's as much about the response on the ground. You already see more firefighters and police officers having more first aid training and paramedic training.
"There are a few instances where firefighters could be special constables. There is an awful lot of sense there and there's a disjoint between the resources the different forces have got."
Mr Barber said there was no timescale to implement changes and it was early days in discussions.
Last year, the Home Office revealed plans to put a single chief officer in charge of both services - which would be appointed and held to account by the PCC.
This officer would act as a chief constable but the position would be open to senior police officers and firefighters.
Currently in the UK, fire services are run by fire authorities or councils.
Rodney Rose, cabinet member for fire and rescue for Oxfordshire County Council, said it was a mistake by the government to enforce a 'one size fits all' policy.
Mr Rose added because Oxfordshire fire service was embedded in the county council, it was 'rubbish' to assume the PCC taking control of it would save the taxpayer money.
He said the case which would have to be produced in order for the proposals to become concrete would 'not stack up', saying firefighters also worked in social care, trading standards and emergency planning for councils.