Agenda and minutes
Venue: Brigade Headquarters, Stocklake, Aylesbury HP20 1BD. View directions
Contact: Katie Nellist
To approve, and sign as a correct record the Minutes of the meeting of the Fire Authority held on 10 June 2020 (Item 2)
That the Minutes of the meeting of the Fire Authority held on 12 June 2020, be approved and signed by the Chairman as a correct record.
To approve, and sign as a correct record the Exempt Minutes of the meeting of the Fire Authority held on 10 June 2020 (Item 11)
That the Exempt Minutes of the meeting of the Fire Authority held on 12 June 2020, be approved and signed by the Chairman as a correct record.
Disclosure of Interests
Members to declare any disclosable pecuniary interests they may have in any matter being considered which are not entered onto the Authority’s Register, and officers to disclose any interests they may have in any contract to be considered.
Councillors Clarke OBE and McCall both declared an interest in Agenda Item 4 Chairman’s Announcements, the national Armed Forces Covenant.
To receive the Chairman’s announcements (if any).
The Chairman announced that:
Signing the national Armed Forces Covenant is the Authority’s promise to actively support the armed forces community. It acknowledges that the Authority recognises the value serving personnel, reservists, veterans and military families can bring to our Service. It also indicates that the Authority will, through its business dealings, work to ensure they are treated with fairness and respect within both the local community and wider society and help remove any disadvantages they may encounter in their day-to-day lives. By signing the covenant, the Chief Fire Officer has pledged that the Authority will seek to uphold the principles of the Armed Forces Covenant, where it can, by:
· Promoting the fact that we are an Armed Forces friendly organisation.
· Supporting the employment of veterans of any age and working with the Career Transition Partnership (CTP) on establishing a tailored employment pathway for service leavers.
· Supporting the employment of Armed Forces spouses and partners, and advertising job opportunities through armed forces friendly recruitment agencies and charities.
· Recognise relevant military qualifications in our recruitment/application processes.
· Offering a degree of flexibility in granting leave for Armed Forces spouses and partners.
· Supporting our employees who choose to be members of the Reserve forces, by accommodating their training and deployment where possible.
· Offering support where possible to our local cadet units, either in our local community or in local schools, and encouraging our employees to be cadet helpers or instructors.
· Actively promoting and when possible participating in Armed Forces Day.
Kate Lole, Regional Employer Engagement Director – Oxfordshire, Buckinghamshire & Berkshire South East Reserve Forces’ & Cadets’ Association had joined the meeting and gave Members a brief overview of the national Armed Forces Covenant.
Buckinghamshire Fire and Rescues Service (BFRS) hosted and took part in a National Urban Search and Rescue (USAR) exercise on the 9 September 2020 along with USAR teams from Essex, Leicester, West Midlands and Norfolk Fire and Rescues Services. All these services form part of the National Zone 2 USAR capability and supports the other 3 zones that make up the 20 teams across the country. In addition, other emergency responders and agencies took an active part in the exercise and these included, NHS Hazardous Area Response Teams (HART), South Central Ambulance Service (SCAS) Disaster Victim Identification (DVI) teams from the Police Force, Air Accident Investigation Branch (AAIB) and local council officers and officials.
The exercise took part at Westcott Venture Park, just outside of Aylesbury. The exercise was designed to demonstrate our capabilities and interoperability arrangements with our USAR Zonal Partners and other emergency responders in preparedness for a major incident of this type. The exercise was audited by the National Resilience Assurance Team (NRAT) who are commissioned by the Home Office to ensure all USAR teams are providing the capability against set Key Performance Indicators.
The exercise proved to be a huge success with all the teams working very well together, we have received very positive feedback from all involved, including NRAT which has shone a positive light ... view the full minutes text for item 4.
To consider Item 7
The Lead Member for People, Equality and Diversity and Assurance introduced the report and advised Members that the People Strategy 2020-2025 sets out a framework for engaging and developing employees to enable the cultural changes which would help the Service better deliver its vision and strategy priorities.
The Lead Member for People, Equality and Diversity and Assurance also thanked the Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Group (ED&I) within the Service. This group come together regularly to help put together the Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Strategy.
The Station Commander Human Resources Projects advised Members that the People Strategy had been revised to align to the Public Safety Plan and Corporate plan and set out a framework for engaging and developing employees of Buckinghamshire Fire and Rescue Service over the next five years. The Strategy had been developed through engagement with the Lead Member for People, Equality, Diversity and Assurance; Stakeholders for each key area; representative bodies and through internal employee consultation. The strategy document has therefore had been updated considering the feedback from the consultation process which could be found in Appendix 1.
The Station Commander Human Resources Projects highlighted the key updates within the strategy; the signing of the national armed forces covenant and promise to support the armed forces community; the focus on senior management talent identification and development; workforce and succession planning; and the Service pledge to continue to increase diversity at all levels.
Work to develop the strategy would be ongoing and would be achieved through a refreshed communication strategy including employee engagement and understanding the strategy’s effectiveness.
The Strategy had been developed to provide flexibility to adapt to any changing circumstances to staff availability and funding, as outlined in the corporate risk register. Subject to approval, the new strategy would become effective from November 2020.
A Members asked if this would be a ‘live’ document and was advised that it would be constantly reviewed. The current strategy had built on experience from previous years, both learning from the ED&I Group, the contribution from the Learning and Development Team, the Health and Well-being Board, and the Culture Surveys that had been carried out over recent years, and also learning from our HMICFRS Inspection report.
1. That the People Strategy 2020 – 2025, Annex A, be approved.
2. That the consultation feedback in Appendix 1 was noted.
To consider item 8
The Director of Legal and Governance advised Members that the purpose of this report was to apprise the Authority of a consultation launched by the Welsh Government on 28 July 2020, about its proposals to make the three Welsh fire and rescue authorities statutory consultees on planning applications relating to specified developments; the current position in England in respect of consultation and fire and rescue authorities; and proposals for England contained within the draft Building Safety Bill.
Responsibility for legislation concerning town and country planning; building regulations and fire safety was devolved to the Welsh Government. The Welsh Government’s proposals would require pre-application and post-application consultation with the three Welsh fire and rescue authorities, by developers and planning bodies, for certain types of development. The types of development which would be subject to the requirement to engage with fire and rescue authorities were set out in paragraph 4.15 in the Welsh Government’s document, These would be planning applications for development comprising, waste sites; 10 residential units or more; or of over 0.5 hectare; buildings with floor space of over 1,000 square metres; or sites of 1 hectare or more. The report maps the current legal regime in Wales across to the regime in England.
In England under town and country planning legislation, a Fire and Rescue Authority (FRA) was only a statutory consultee where a proposed development was a ‘Nationally Significant Infrastructure Project’ , such as a power station, fuel storage or a fuel pipeline, transport hub, or highway or railway. However, there was nothing to preclude local planning authorities from adopting local policies under which they could consult fire and rescue authorities about planning applications. Changes to the legislation of the type contemplated in Wales would require the necessary levels of staffing and competency within the FRA to enable it to comply with a duty to provide a “substantive response” within a 21-day period; and require the FRA to publish annual compliance data.
In England, council’s building control services, or approved inspectors, were responsible for checking for compliance with the requirements of Building Regulations. Building Regulations were concerned with building work and with material changes of use (which may give rise to requirements for building work).
The requirements for fire safety would apply to most buildings. Fire safety requirements were set out in Part B of Schedule 1 to the Building Regulations. These cover means of escape, means of early warning, internal and external fire spread, and access and facilities for the fire and rescue service. Ways of meeting the requirements were given in statutory guidance issued in England and separately in Wales as ‘Approved Document B’. At present, FRAs were consulted on applications for Building Regulations approval when required under Approved Document B.
The Welsh Government’s proposals were in response to the Grenfell Fire, however the legislation proposed for Wales was not limited to high rise residential buildings.
In England a different approach had been adopted. On 20 July 2020 the Government published the draft Building Safety ... view the full minutes text for item 8.
To consider item 9
The Lead Member for Finance and Assets, Information Security and IT introduced the report.
The Director of Finance and Assets advised Members that this report was for noting. It covered two formal consultations the deadline for responses were the 8 and 11 October 2020. Responses had already been submitted in agreement with the Chairman and Lead Member. Both consultations sought views on how best to remedy the firefighters pension scheme and the local government pension scheme following the McCloud/Sargeant ruling. Certain protections offered as part of the transition from old schemes to new schemes were discriminatory and had to be remedied.
The proposal for the local government pension scheme was more straight forward and simply removed the age requirement from the underpin qualification criteria during the qualifying period.
The firefighter pension scheme proposals were more complex, in that there were two proposals. Essentially, firefighters would have a choice whether they remain in their legacy scheme or transfer into the new scheme during the transition period which runs between 2015 and 2022. The proposals were that they had to either make this choice immediately or they have a deferred choice, whereby they make the choice of which scheme they want to be in when they retire.
In terms of the proposals, the Authority didn’t express a preference for either option, the approach had been to highlight the implications for both choices and that there would be additional costs in terms of administration and almost certainly higher employer contributions and also made representations that these should be funded by central government and should not be a burden on local council tax payers.
As part of this, the Authority had also stressed the need for clear guidance for both employers and members of both pension schemes as they were becoming increasingly complex, and guidance was essential for everyone involved.
A Member had noted that the Local Government Association (LGA) had published a response with a preference for the deferred option and asked why the LGA felt that was the better option.
The Director of Finance and Assets advised Members that the LGA had expressed quite a clear preference for the deferred option, the overriding basis for this was that the LGA felt it mitigated the risk of any future legal challenge. One of the issues they noticed was that if there was an immediate choice exercise, not all members were massively engaged in pensions, especially the younger ones and they may not engage and make that immediate choice.
The consultation also noted that immediate choice was irrevocable although it would bring more certainly to the employer in terms of being able to value the scheme and set employers contributions. The overall impact on the Authority of either scheme was the amount of administration and the amount of resource would increase even further over the next couple of years whatever choice was made.
The Chairman asked about the guidance and was advised that it was something the Authority was pushing government to lead ... view the full minutes text for item 9.
Date of next meeting
To note that the next meeting of the Fire Authority will be held on Wednesday 9 December 2020 at 11am.
To note that the next meeting of the Fire Authority will be held on Wednesday 9 December 2020 at 11am.
THE CHAIRMAN CLOSED THE MEETING AT 12.23 PM