Police and Crime Commissioner David Lloyd has told councillors he agreed to suspend his controversial bid to take over the fire service, because the Home Office was taking too long to make up its mind.

The commissioner submitted the bid to take control of the fire service from the county council last summer.

He argued that bringing the emergency services together would cut costs, enable better joint working and improve public safety.

But earlier this month he ‘suspended’ the bid, after signing a formal agreement with the county council to look at ways to the police and the fire service could work together.

On Monday he told a meeting of the county council’s community safety and waste management cabinet panel that decision reflected the need to move forward.

He said it reflected the belief that benefits of greater collaboration could be achieved without a change in governance.

“Given that it was taking so long I felt that we needed to move this forward,” he said.

“And the other thing was I think we had all agreed that the positive benefits,  which would have been brought about by the change in governance, wouldn’t have been by the governance itself but the collaboration.”

He later said:  “I recognise this isn’t the outcome that I thought was best, however I recognise that we have to work closely together and I wasn’t prepared it for us to continue going on for more than a year.”

At the heart of the agreement between the county council and the commissioner is the establishment of the Hertfordshire Emergency Services Collaboration Board.

Mr Lloyd said he expected early collaboration projects to include the co-location of headquarters,  the development of community safety hubs and joint training facilities, as well as building shared drone capacity.

Chairman Cllr Terry Hone said the council welcomed the collaboration and he said that “everything is on the table”.

But he said, everything determined by the board will still have to feed into the county council’s committee structures.

Following the meeting, Labour group leader Cllr Judi Billing said the bid had been a “grotesque waste of time and money” .

“If collaboration is what he wanted he could have said that right at the beginning,” she said.

“I am appalled to think of all the uncertainty that has been caused to our fire and rescue colleagues and county council colleagues over more than a year.

“We don’t know what the cost of the exercise has been, but I will be asking questions.”

Cllr Billing is pleased, however, that the new collaboration board will benefit from the scrutiny of the county council.

“We wouldn’t have had that opportunity if the governance had been removed,” said Cllr Billing.

“I am not confident I am going to like all the proposals – and therefore it’s really important that we get to have a say.”