Venue: Cabinet Suite - Shire Hall, Gloucester. View directions
To note any apologies.
Apologies were received from Cllrs Mark Mackenzie-Charrington, Bernie Fisher, Vernon Smith and Pam Tracey.
Declarations of Interest
To receive any pecuniary or personal interests from members.
No declarations of interest were made at the meeting.
To receive a presentation on the Government’s Fire Reform White Paper.
The Committee to consider the Council’s response to the consultation.
The full consultation document can be found at the following web address:
Mark Preece, Chief Fire Officer (CFO), delivered a presentation on the ‘Reforming our Fire and Rescue Service’ white paper and public consultation. The presentation would be circulated to Committee members following the meeting.
It was understood that the white paper reflected the recommendations made by the outgoing HMICFRS Chief Inspector in the State of Fire and Rescue annual report, as well as those raised by the National Fire Chiefs Council (NFCC) and Local Government Association (LGA). The white paper had been commissioned by the Home Secretary and published on 18 May 2022. A 10 week public consultation period would end late July 2022.
Members were advised that the paper addressed three principal areas for reform: people, professionalism and governance; and of the 48 proposals, 8 related to people, 20 to professionalism and 20 to governance.
The white paper addressed the role of fire and rescue services (FRS) and recognised that during the Covid-19 pandemic, the response of FRS was affected by a lack of flexible and modern working practices. The paper also recognised that national negotiation processes were a barrier to rapid and flexible responses, and that chief fire officers should be empowered to make decisions on the basis of risk and resources.
It was noted, following a query, that the paper was proposing an independent review of the pay negotiation process, which would include looking at pay review bodies for other sectors.
One member raised a concern about different pay and conditions within the devolved nations of the UK. In response, it was understood that all FRS based their procedures on national operational guidance, and therefore there was consistency with national operations, however the concern raised regarding pay in different areas of the UK was acknowledged.
One member suggested that there should be a national pay rate with regional adjustments to address the cost of living.
Another member raised a concern about the marginalisation of trade unions, and welcomed thoughts as to how chief fire officers could have more operational independence alongside the role of trade unions. In response, the CFO advised that increased decision making powers for chief fire officers would not prevent national negotiations on pay.
One member suggested the paper alluded to increased control by central government and overriding local democracy. In answer, it was explained that the independent reform of the pay and conditions process was fundamental.
The member queried whether this review could be implemented without legislation. The CFO replied that the white paper drew together a range of issues into one report, some of which would require legislation to resolve, whilst others, such as the independent pay review, would not.
The CFO continued to explain the proposals for recruitment, talent management and leadership. It was noted that more needed to be done to support future leaders and diversity in senior positions, as, for example, there were currently only three female chief fire officers across the country. There was a proposal to reintroduce consistent entry requirements, and the CFO was supportive of the ... view the full minutes text for item 52.
To consider the Committee’s work plan, and to suggest items for consideration at future meetings.
It was noted that the Committee meeting scheduled for the 15 July had been cancelled and that the HMICFRS Inspection Report would now be considered at the meeting in September.
To note the meeting dates for the remainder of 2022 (all meetings to start at 10am):
15 July 2022
2 September 2022
11 November 2022.
The dates of future meetings were noted.