A CLOSER alliance between fire services in Worcestershire and neighbouring Shropshire has been agreed.

The governing body of Hereford and Worcester Fire and Rescue Service (HWFRS) has backed plans to enter a formal alliance with Shropshire Fire and Rescue Service to build on a relationship which has seen both brigades share a number of services.

Both fire services have been sharing computer systems, fire control and risk management since autumn last year and will now work together on procurement.

Shropshire’s fire authority had already agreed to adopt the 16-page agreement and Hereford and Worcester’s fire authority finalised the move by backing the plans at a meeting at County Hall on Tuesday (October 15).

Fire bosses in Shropshire said the alliance did not mean both brigades would be buying everything together.

The alliance has been introduced by the two fire authorities as an attempt to save money but the move still comes against the backdrop of the ongoing saga regarding West Mercia Police and Crime Commissioner John Campion’s plan to take over the running of both fire authorities.

Mr Campion launched a bid to take over the management of HWFRS and Shropshire Fire and Rescue Service in 2017 but was met with strong opposition from the fire authorities.

The plans ended up in court despite then Home Secretary Amber Rudd approving the plans in March last year.

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Both brigades launched a judicial review earlier this year in a bid to block the takeover and the courts again ruled in Mr Campion’s favour.

The fire authorities have appealed against the ruling and a decision still awaits.

Questions remain over whether the fire alliance would continue if Mr Campion’s takeover goes ahead.

West Mercia Police and Crime Commissioner John Campion said: “The proposals from the current fire authorities are not far reaching enough.

“This is a piecemeal attempt at collaboration as the fire authorities continue to delay a Home Office approved governance approach, proven to deliver significant benefits to communities.

“I will deliver service improvement, increased effectiveness and efficiency for communities, with clear terms for fair working and collaboration from the outset.