Home Secretary John Reid has been urged to scrap fire brigade mergers as Midland chief constables launched an unprecedented public attack on the Government for its humiliating U-turn over the police service.
Paul Scott-Lee, the Chief Constable of West Midlands Police, said the decision not to go ahead with the merger of police forces was a "missed opportunity".
The heads of Staffordshire and Warwickshire Police also condemned the climbdown, as the senior officers took the extraordinary step of publicly criticising the Home Office.
But opposition MPs welcomed the decision and said the Government should now also scrap proposals to unite the region's five fire services by giving them a single control room.
Peter Luff (Con Mid Worcestershire) said: "The very same arguments apply to fire as they do to policing."
And John Hemming (Lib Dem Birmingham Yardley) said: "Any merger like this causes chaos, and you should only do it if there is an exceptionally good reason."
Tony Blair was forced to defend the move in the House of Commons yesterday, after Conservative leader David Cameron accused him of "wasting police time".
The Government had planned to merge police forces across the country, including West Midlands, West Mercia, Staffordshire and Warwick-shire into a giant super-force.
Mr Scott-Lee told The Post: "I believe this is a missed opportunity; a single regional police force was realistic and affordable and would have offered real opportunities to enhance the policing of local neighbourhoods and provide better protective services to deal with cross-border incidents, major crime and terrorism."
John Burbeck, Chief Con-stable of Warwickshire, said Police Minister Tony McNulty's comments that force mergers will not now go ahead came as a "great personal disappointment" as he prepared to retire from the police service after 34 years. A great opportunity to make policing in the county stronger and more resilient has now been missed," said Mr Burbeck.
Staffordshire's Chief Con-stable, David Swift joined in the criticism, saying: "Merging the forces within the West Midlands government region was the best way forward for policing and for our communities.
"A single regional police force would have offered real opportunities to improve neighbourhood policing and provide protective services to deal with cross border incidents, major crime and terrorism." But Paul West, the Chief Constable of West Mercia, said it was "good news" that the merger had been scrapped.
The Government will continue to support voluntary mergers, but will no longer try to impose amalgamations where any of the forces involved are opposed. In practice, this means the mergers will not go ahead.
Speaking in the House of Commons, Mr Blair said: "There will be areas where it is important for us, for example, to have far greater strategic cooperation across force lines and also to merge where we can find the consent to do so."
But Mr Cameron demanded: "Can he tell us what has changed? Hasn't the Prime Minister been wasting police time?"
Last year the independent police inspection service warned that smaller forces lacked the resources to deal with sophisticated modern crime and terrorism.
Liberal Democrat Home Affairs spokesman Nick Clegg said: "Mergers would have been an expensive mistake, and the Government's acknowledgement of this fact is to be welcomed."
UK Independence Party MEP Mike Nattrass (West Midlands) said: "The UK Independence Party has campaigned against these ideas ever since the Government proposed them.
"We are all delighted that the powers that be have finally seen sense".