The committee to note an information report from the Chief Fire Officer on the portfolio of services provided by the Gloucestershire Fire and Rescue Service on behalf of Gloucestershire County Council.
To assist in facilitating the items for consideration at this meeting, plus the items to be considered in conjunction with the meeting, members are requested to submit any questions relating to the attached report in advance of the meeting to firstname.lastname@example.org. A written response will be provided, and recorded in the minutes of the meeting.
The committee received an update from the Chief Fire Officer on the portfolio of services provided by the Gloucestershire Fire and Rescue Service (GFRS) on behalf of Gloucestershire County Council.
Members noted progress on the GFRS Integrated Risk Management Plan 2015-18, including proposals relating to Cirencester and Painswick Fire Stations following full public consultation.
The Chief Fire Officer reminded members that the Gloucestershire Fire and Rescue Authority had a legal obligation to produce an Integrated Risk Management Plan, (IRMP), outlining the authority’s plans to manage fire and rescue service locally by matching resources with current and future risks.
In April 2015, the County Council, in its role as Fire and Rescue Authority, approved an Integrated Risk Management Plan, (IRMP), for the Gloucestershire Fire and Rescue Service. A requirement of the IRMP had been to produce an accompanying three-year action plan, for which the first year of the plan had focused on undertaking a thorough and extensive review of emergency response in Gloucestershire, combining quantitative and qualitative research. Included in the IRMP 2015-18, was a commitment to the residents of Gloucestershire to undertake further consultation on any changes that might significantly impact on local communities.
In fulfilling this commitment, the fire authority commenced an extensive 90 day county-wide public consultation, ending on 4 January 2016, including consultation on the proposed closure of Painswick Fire Station and changes to the operational management of Cirencester Fire Station. The consultation included six public drop-in sessions, face to face meetings, electronic and paper surveys, and direct contact with partners.
Outlining some of the key information from the consultation, the Chief Fire Officer confirmed the number of respondents responding to ‘what extent residents had agreed with the proposal to deliver additional prevention and protection activities in Painswick, emergency response cover from Stroud, and closure of Painswick Fire Station’ was 254, of which, 67 per cent had either strongly agreed or agreed with the proposal, and 15.5 had either strongly disagreed or disagreed.
The number of respondents responding to ‘what extent residents had agreed with the proposal to change the way the Fire Service provided staff at Cirencester Fire Station’ was 248, of which 69 per cent had either strongly agreed or agreed with the proposal and 14 per cent had either strongly disagreed or disagreed.
Responding to comments, the Chief Fire Officer confirmed that the responses from the RFU, (Retained Firefighters Union), had been taken into account, but reflected different perspectives, namely to stop fires, as opposed to preventing and protecting communities.
Several members expressed concerns about the proposals, whilst others upheld reservations about the number of responses on which the proposals would be based.
Seeking clarification on the number of responses received, one member questioned the Fire Service taking such a significant decision based on a low number of responses. The Chief Fire Officer assured members that every effort had been made to engage with the local communities concerned, and confirmed that the response to the Gloucestershire consultation had been much higher than in other parts of the country, including Oxfordshire.
Noting the outcomes of the consultation and the responses to questions raised at the meeting, the committee, in spite of reservations from some members, indicated its support for the proposals. It was noted that the proposals would be considered by Cabinet on 17 February 2016.
Full details of the Chief Fire Officer’s Report can be viewed at the following link: -