Board to distraction: like the sword of Damocles, the threat of an enforced regional structure has been hanging over the Fire and Rescue Service since the publication of the White Paper. Failure to agree on a mechanism whereby modernisation can be delivered would result in the imposition by central government of nine regional fire and rescue services.(Regional Agenda)

The deadline for having these regional structures was April 1, this year, a target that all areas met. It would seem that at least to some, the fact that the threat of regionalisation appears to have receded means that there has been a modicum of success in meeting the government's target. Alternatively, perhaps, the government has now begun to recognise some of the difficulties associated with merging disparate organisations into one homogenous entity, without its own legal authority or funding.

The LGA would prefer to see a system of voluntary collaboration rather than an imposed solution whereby the Secretary of State would direct fire authorities to combine and appoint up to 49 pet" cent of board members. To this end, the creation of the RMBs appears to have been successful and headed off, at least in the short term the threat of an imposed solution.

What are the regional management boards themselves and how are they constituted, what voting rights do members have and what are their statutory duties and obligations? Moreover, perhaps most importantly, what influence do they have when the constituent members do not want to adopt particular policies--will the threat of compulsory amalgamation be realised? …

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