Meeting documents

South East Fire & Rescue Services Regional Management Board
Wednesday, 21 January 2009



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Agenda Item No. 05









These minutes are subject to confirmation by the Regional Management Board at its next meeting.





* Cllr B Abraham           Chair, Isle of Wight Fire Authority, Cabinet Member for Safer Communities


* Cllr Dr P Bryant          Chairman, Royal Berkshire Fire Authority


* Cllr M F Cartwright     Chairman, Hampshire Fire & Rescue, Fire Authority


* Cllr Mrs H Clack         Executive Member Safer & Stronger Communities, Surrey County Council


  Cllr B Cope                 Chairman, Kent & Medway Fire & Rescue Authority

* Cllr T Mason               Vice Chairman


* Cllr P Evans               Cabinet Member Public Protection, West Sussex County Council


* Cllr Mrs J Heathcoat   Cabinet Member Community Safety, Oxfordshire County Council


* Cllr M Murphy              Chairman, East Sussex Fire Authority


* Cllr D Rowlands         Chairman, Buckinghamshire & Milton Keynes Fire Authority


* = Present



In Attendance:


CFO J Bonney              Hampshire

CFO M Burrell               West Sussex

CFO I Cox                     Royal Berkshire

CFO R Pearson           Surrey

CFO D Prichard           East Sussex

CFO P Street                Isle of Wight

DCFO D Etheridge       Oxfordshire

DCFO C Hedger           Buckinghamshire

Steve Dutton                 Oxfordshire

Charles Kerr                 Kent

James Finch                 SEFIP

Anne Bryen                   East Sussex

Terry Brewer                 CEO, FireBuy

Doug Feery                   I&DeA

Suzanne Dowse           I&DeA




                   Councillor Tom Mason was welcomed as a substitute member for Kent. DCFO David Etheridge (Oxfordshire), DCFO Clare Hedger (Buckinghamshire) and Charles Kerr (Kent) were welcomed to the meeting.  Doug Feery and Suzanne Dowse were welcomed from I&DeA, and Terry Brewer from FiReBuy.


              The Board noted that CFO Martin Burrell was retiring and this was the last RMB meeting that he would attend. The Board thanked him for the support he had provided and for his hard work since the inception of the RMB, and wished him well for the future.


              The Board noted that with effect from 6 October 2008, Sadiq Khan (MP for Tooting) had been appointed as the new Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State with responsibility for Fire and Resilience, having replaced Parmjit Dhanda.


34/08     APOLOGIES FOR ABSENCE (Item 2)


Councillor B Cope (Kent), and CFO Bill Feeley (Kent), CFO D Smith (Buckinghamshire) and CFO J Parry (Oxfordshire).




              There were no declarations of interest.  However, CFO Burrell left the room during consideration of item 9. (See minute no. 41/08 below).


36/08     PROCEDURAL MATTERS (Item 4)


              There were no questions from Members.




              RESOLVED – That the minutes of the RMB meeting held on 9 July 2008 be approved    and signed by the Chairman.


38/08     MATTERS ARISING (Item 6)


With regard to minute no 30/08, James Finch advised the Board that it had not been possible to arrange a day long meeting during August, and he would canvass members for a future date.


CFO Martin Burrell updated Members on FiReControl and RCC Network issues.


At the LACC meeting on 3 September 2008, agreement in principle was given to the use of the RCC for additional purposes, where related to Fire & Rescue Service business. Approval was also given to taking forward scoping of a request from London Fire Brigade relating to back office services. Terms and Conditions for new staff were discussed.  The next LACC meeting would be held on 7 November 2008 when shift patterns, staff numbers, Service Support Manager recruitment and Reasonableness Criteria would be considered.


The RCC network had undertaken to consider two key pieces of work with CLG - an RCC training strategy, and business continuity, specifically the ‘3rd way’ solution, whereby both the home RCC and fall back RCCs were out of action.


A review of the Regional Project Team was underway, particularly looking at project support and data/technical areas.  The Regional Project Team was trying to establish early dialogue with CLG's policy team on how FRAs should establish their need for new burdens funding.


To enable FRAs to cut over and for the South East to go-live, the region had to set up a staffing pool consisting of the full complement of RCC managerial roles; RCCD to Team Leaders, and a reduced number of Control Room Operators. Meetings were continuing with Control Room Managers and the Task & Finish group to refine the planning figures.  CFO Burrell advised that he had written to the FiReControl Project Director to formally request that Hampshire and West Sussex cut over together.


CFO Burrell provided an update on the infrastructure services (EADS). Notably, the DCMT1 (Gazetteer) had been further delayed and FRAs would need to develop a broader picture of their data management solution. Stand-alone Mobile Data Terminals would be offered from spring 2009 (depending on Firelink progress). Station End Equipment (SEE) had passed CLG’s User Assurance Tests. Surveys would be starting in the next few months. CFOA was arranging FRS resources for Integrated Working Teams (IWTs) to develop detailed design of the main system build over next 3-6 months.


CLG had produced a first draft of the detail of the final 3 months prior to cutover for FRA comment. The Joint Project Board considered the wider picture needed for an FRA to make the final decision to cut over, and this would be built into a SE Acceptance Strategy.


A new process and a new Senior Professional User Review Panel was being set up under CFOA auspices to consider the work flowing out of CLG.


The Regional Delivery Team for Firelink in the SE now comprised a team of four, headed by John South of Mott Macdonald.  Phase A milestone closure was discussed and agreed at the Joint Project Board on 25th September. There had been discussions at national level about the Phase B schedule and how it related to the Mobile Data Terminal installations.


There were some risks that had been highlighted:


-                 FRAs may not achieve data migration in time to meet their cutover dates.

-                 FRAs may not achieve convergence in time to meet their cutover dates.

-                 Resource being requested to review and develop the solution exceeds CLG funding and/or delays other FRA work.

-                 Without extensive FRA input on design CLG/EADS will not interpret FRA needs correctly and the final solution will not be effective.

-                 Lack of specialist advice delays LACC decision-making.

-                 Weak management of EADS contract by CLG means FRAs implement inconsistently.


RESOLVED - That the oral report be noted.


39/08     CORRESPONDENCE (Item 7)


No correspondence had been received.




The Board received a presentation from Terry Brewer, Chief Executive Officer - FireBuy, the national procurement body for the Fire & Rescue Service.  The presentation provided details about the changing structure of FireBuy, the key areas in procurement delivery (FireCat, respiratory protective equipment, telecoms and insurance); fire vehicles and emergency response equipment, contracts and emergency response equipment; contracts and relationship management (including the long term capability management of new dimensions assets (LTCM); integrated clothing project (ICP); and fireguard);, technical services; and the National Procurement Strategy 2008-11 consultation.


Councillor Bryant (Royal Berkshire) asked how FiReBuy was funded, and if FRAs would be expected to provide future funding (other than through purchases). He also asked if dealing with specialist suppliers created a monopoly situation. Mr Brewer advised that funding was currently provided from CLG; however, discussions were taking place with CLG about how to bridge a gap in resources in the next financial year. A review of FiReBuy was being undertaken, and consultation on the National Procurement Strategy for Fire & Rescue Services 2008–11 and the wider arrangements for the national procurement function, which would close on 14 November 2008.  Mr Brewer advised that for everything except clothing, a framework agreement was in place that included a number of manufacturers that FRAs could contact. Also, it was not mandatory for FRAs to use the ICP.


Councillor Murphy (East Sussex) said that the governance arrangements should be reviewed. Mr Brewer pointed to the consultation document that asked FRAs to respond to four governance questions. 


Councillor Mason (Kent) expressed his appreciation to FiReBuy for the Insurance Consortium arrangements.


The Board noted the wide portfolio of products and services available through FiReBuy.


RESOLVED – That the presentation be noted.




              CFO Burrell (West Sussex) left the room during consideration of this item.


CFO Bonney (Hampshire) presented a report that explained the project management arrangements that operated in the southeast region to manage the transition to a South East Regional Control Centre and implement the Firelink and Incident Recording System projects. Since the role of Regional Project Director had begun, (carried out by Martin Burrell, CFO West Sussex), the workload had increased. A number of other regions had appointed a regional project director with responsibility for Fire Control, Firelink and in some cases IRS.  The SE CFOs had been concerned about the amount of work the three projects were generating and the need for succession planning following the retirement of the CFO Burrell in December 2008. The appointment of a Project Director with a strategic overview, as well as revised management arrangements for the SE RMB, was recommended. The selection process, person specification and governance arrangements had been considered by Hampshire, West Sussex and Kent FRAs. It was recommended that the Selection Board should be allowed flexibility and discretion in making an appointment depending on the successful applicant’s experience and ability and the market circumstances. West Sussex FRA would be the employing authority, and would finalise the pay scale and terms and conditions of service.  It was likely that the post would be financed from New Burdens funding.


It was noted that the organisational structure in Section 7 of the job description should have included Royal Berkshire and Surrey FRSs, and not the Isle of Wight and Thames Valley, as shown.


Councillor Murphy (East Sussex) stressed the need for the post-holder to have Brigade management experience and qualifications, and the expertise and ability to work at a strategic level, which should be reflected in the pay scale offered.  CFO Bonney said that consideration had been given to similar posts elsewhere, the procurement methods and salary scales.  The pay scale suggested for the post indicated the lower end of a scale. It was agreed in principle that the Selection Board should have discretion to appoint on terms and conditions as appropriate to reflect the applicant’s experience and ability.


In answer to a question from Councillor Bryant (Royal Berkshire), CFO Bonney said that some new burdens funds were already being provided to West Sussex for this work.

Councillor Mrs Heathcoat (Oxfordshire) considered that the requirement for desirable skills in the person specification relating to knowledge, skills and understanding of the UK Fire and Rescue Services and of emergency service control rooms, should be essential. CFO Bonney explained that desirable rather than essential elements in the person specification would attract a wide range of applicants, including those from outside the FRS.


The Board considered the composition of the Selection Board, and agreed that, as this was an RMB appointment, it should include a member of the RMB.




1)      the creation of a 37 hour Regional  Project Director post (as detailed in the attached job description and person specification) be approved and the selection process detailed in the report be approved;


2)             the selection board be authorised to adjust arrangements in light of candidate interest and market circumstances;


3)             the employment of the Project Director and team remaining with West Sussex as the Regional Management Board work area lead on the Regional Control Centre, be confirmed; and


4)             either the Chairman, Vice-Chairman or other nominated member of the SE RMB be included on the Selection Board. 




CFO Burrell (West Sussex) presented a report that outlined proposals to give greater clarity to the decision-making processes for the RMB and LACC. The Fire and Rescue National Framework 2006/08 and 2008/11 set out the roles of the RMBs and FRAs in establishing regional control centres, LACCs and the Firelink radio system. However, there was a lack of clarity about who should take decisions on what area of the Firecontrol plan when working towards final implementation of the RCC.


It was proposed that the RMB, as a collective of the FRAs in the south-east, should take responsibility for ‘existing’ and ‘transitional’ arrangements, whilst the LACC should take decisions on the way the service was provided post RCC ‘Go Live’, Final or ‘Ready state’. The decisions for the LACC would only relate to staffing issues and not operational delivery areas which remained the responsibilities of the FRAs.


RESOLVED – That the decision governance model, set out in Appendix A of the report, be approved.




The Board received a presentation from Doug Feery, accompanied by Suzanne Dowse, from the I&DeA.  Evidence showed that progress was being made by all nine FRAs towards achieving level 3 of the Equality Standard for Local Government, albeit that each FRA was at a different stage. Work that had been done in the SE RMB would be regarded as best practice, and the Chair agreed to highlight this at the national RMB Chairs’ meeting on 9 October 2008.


The Board noted that there were some tensions where the fire and rescue service was part of a county council structure, and where processes and targets were not always aligned.


James Finch (SEFIP) advised the Board that the contract with I&DeA had now ended and a new contract for support was being negotiated. SEFIP would continue to provide help in moving FRAs to level 3. It was hoped that another FRS would have reached level 3 by March 2009 and a further two by December 2009, with all nine FRSs at level 3 by March 2011. It was hoped to arrange another operational diversity event during late summer 2009 in the Thames Valley area.


The Board also received a report from CFO Smith (Buckinghamshire) that set out the progress made towards meeting equality standards for local government across the region and recommended revised targets. The Board noted the leadership demonstrated in the south east RMB especially in establishing SEFIP.


The Chairman extended his thanks on behalf of the Board for the work carried out by I&DeA with all the FRSs in the SE region and expressed the hope that all FRAs would continue to drive forward the equality and diversity agenda.




1)      the presentation from I&DeA be noted;

2)             the intention to develop a new contract of support for equality and diversity issues with an appropriate supplier, in consultation with the SEFIP stakeholder group and Chief Fire officers, be noted;

3)             the revised target in relation to meeting level 3 of the equality standard for local government as set out in the report at paragraphs 13 & 14 be approved; and

4)             thanks be extended to SEFIP, James Finch, Doug Feery and all those involved in the achievements made to date.




Steve Dutton (Oxfordshire) presented a report that advised the Board that the National Procurement Strategy for the (English) Fire and Rescue Service 2005/08 needed to be updated to reflect progress in implementing the original strategy and developments and changes to the Service in general.  A consultation exercise was underway to seek views on the 2008-11 strategy. The Board considered the key elements from the strategy. It was proposed that the regional procurement manager should collate views from the FRAs and prepare a regional response to CLG to meet the deadline of 14 November 2008, following approval by the lead member for procurement.


              RESOLVED – That:


1)      the collation of South East FRAs’ responses to the consultation paper (centring on the major concerns and issues of the SE region), be approved; and

2)             the lead member for procurement be authorised to approve the final draft of the regional response before it is sent to CLG.


45/08     PROGRESS AGAINST PLAN (Item 13)


Charles Kerr (Kent) presented the first report on the progress made against each work area in the RMB’s business plan 2008/11. A copy of the South East Fire & Rescue Authorities’ Regional Procurement Strategy 2008/11 was circulated at the meeting.


Martin Burrell circulated a copy of FRS Circular 41/2008 that set out the CLG’s preferred option for apportioning FiReControl shared costs amongst the regions of England. The Circular recommended apportioning national costs on the basis of a region's ability to pay, and the CLG’s preference was to use tax base as the simplest metric.  The SE Finance Network had stated a preference for an equal nine-way split across all regions. The consolidated views of the regions through RMBs was sought by 31 October 2008.




1)      That the report and the appendix be noted.

2)      That the response to the consultation exercise on apportionment of the national costs be dealt with by Martin Burrell.


46/08     DATES OF NEXT MEETINGS (Item 15)


              Wednesday  21 January and 1 April 2009.




              RESOLVED – That item 16a be exempt under paragraphs 3 and 4 of Schedule 12A to the Local Government Act 1972 as amended by the Local Government (Access to Information) (Variation) Order 2006 and accordingly was not open for public inspection on the grounds that it includes information relating to the financial or business affairs of any particular person (including the authority holding that information); and information relating to any consultations or negotiations or contemplated consultations or negotiations in connection with any labour relations matter arising between the Authority or a Minister of the Crown and employees of, or office holders under, the Authority.




The meeting closed at 13:20 hours.  







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