This regular column will take a break for a while through the local election but for my last example pre that, I wanted to look at a different type of authority: a fire authority. fire authorities are part of the local government family and as such are also playing their part in looking at ow to work more efficiently.
My Champion Council for this week is Buckinghamshire and Milton Keynes Fire Authority, who are the only Combined Fire Authority which were able to take a significant increase in council tax (due to their being lower quartile ) but, putting their citizens first, chose to continue to maintain the freeze in their council tax for another year.
The Authority is in the upper quartile of Value for Money performance as measured by the Audit Commission and it has delivered managed underspends of between 4 and 6% in the last 2 years. This year, they will report a further managed underspend of around 2% of the revenue budget for 12/13.
The Authority now has one of the lowest council tax rates of any Combined Fire Authority in England, but has improved the outcomes for their community year on year and has managed a significant reduction in budgets without detriment to emergency response levels. As a result, the citizens of Bucks and Milton Keynes enjoy high quality safety services at a low cost.
Staff have been into more than 17,000 homes in the last 18 months giving advice and fitting free smoke detectors resulting in a reduction in the number of fire injuries.
This progressive Fire Authority is considering approaches to share senior management teams with other public bodies and has developed a unique and innovative approach to protecting the service for the community while also delivering excellent value for money. This will be an. Port at step forward as we look at how fire authorities can share management, much like the way Hertfordshire's chief fire officer is now also chief executive to the new Police and Crime Commissioner.