New Clause 5 — Regional Management Structures

Part of Fire and Rescue Services Bill – in the House of Commons at 7:45 pm on 15th March 2004.

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Photo of Parmjit Dhanda Parmjit Dhanda Labour, Gloucester 7:45 pm, 15th March 2004

I am going to be parochial, and talk about control rooms or call centres rather than the more general subject of regionalisation. Although the Bill does not refer to control rooms in depth, they are a constituency issue.

In some ways, Gloucestershire has been penalised for being somewhat ahead of the game. Not so many years ago, the thinking tended towards tri-service rather than regional arrangements. My right hon. Friend the Minister will know how difficult it was to get an arrangement up and running in Gloucestershire involving three services in one building, control rooms working together, and a level of integration that has not been achieved elsewhere in the country. I gather that as recently as last week there was an attempt to integrate the three services in Wiltshire, but so far it has not proved possible to integrate the fire service with the other two. In our case, members of the fire service said that the arrangement could prove difficult and dangerous, and there was even talk of loss of lives. I am pleased to say, however, that at local level all three services have been pragmatic enough not just to do this but to make it work, in a £6 million centre.