Agenda and draft minutes

Venue: Virtual Meeting - go to https://esfrs.webex.com/esfrs/j.php?MTID=eed428bdc5cf6a886118ddcce58bad1f6 or dial +44-20-7660-8149

Contact: Abigail Blanshard  for more information on attending this meeting please email:  democraticservices@esfrs.org event password S5BesB2EQB3 audio access code 137 250 9218

Items
No. Item

15.

Declarations of Interest

In relation to matters on the agenda, seek declarations of interest from Members, in accordance with the provisions of the Fire Authority’s Code of Conduct for Members.

Minutes:

There were none.

16.

Apologies for Absence

Minutes:

Apologies were received from Councillor Hamilton.  The Fire Authority welcomed Councillor Grimshaw who had been appointed to attend as substitute for this meeting.

17.

Notification of items which the Chairman considers urgent and proposes to take at the end of the agenda/Chairman's business items

Any Members wishing to raise urgent items are asked, wherever possible to notify the Chairman before the start of the meeting.  In so doing they must state the special circumstances which they consider justify the matter being considered urgently

18.

To consider any public questions

Minutes:

There were none.

19.

To receive any petitions

Minutes:

There were none.

20.

Non-confidential Minutes of the Previous Meeting pdf icon PDF 367 KB

To approve the Minutes of the last meeting held on 11 June 2020.

Minutes:

RESOLVED – That the minutes of the meeting held on 11 June 2020 be approved and signed by the Chairman. (Copy in Minute Book)

21.

Callover

The Chairman will call the item numbers of the remaining items on the open agenda.  Each item which is called by any Member shall be reserved for debate.  The Chairman will then ask the Fire Authority to adopt without debate the recommendations and resolutions contained in the relevant reports for these items which have not been called.

Minutes:

Members reserved the following items for debate:

 

84        2019/20 Annual Performance Outcome Report

 

85        IT Strategy 2020-2025

 

87        2021/22 to 2024/25 Strategic Service Planning and Medium Term Financial Plan

 

88        Draft Integrated Risk Management Plan (IRMP) 2020-2025 ‘Planning for a Safer Future’ – Consultation Results and Modified Proposals

 

RESOLVED – That all other reports be approved according to the recommendations set out.

 

22.

2019/20 Annual Performance Outcome Report pdf icon PDF 172 KB

Report of the Assistant Director Planning & Improvement.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Fire Authority considered the report of the Assistant Director Planning & Improvement providing details of East Sussex Fire Rescue Service’s performance for the period April – March 2019/20.  Fourteen top level indicators had improved or met the target set in 2019/20 (70%) and six indicators declined. 

 

The Planning & Intelligence Manager (P&IM) introduced the report to Members and drew their attention to some particular key points, linked to the Service’s priority performance areas.  These included highlighting the reduction in accidental dwelling fires, in 2019/20 ESFRS had recorded the lowest number of these incidents ever at 453, this was an 11% reduction on the previous year.  Other key points in the report related to a decline in performance regarding overall sickness absence rates, there had been a slight increase in sickness absences, particularly relating to long-term sickness.  Members were informed that at the end of 2019/20 the number of inspections of high risk premises and business safety audits had increased by 28%.

 

Members felt that the report outlined some satisfactory performance figures.  There was some concern that the number of home safety visit figures was not as high as desired and that there would be an unavoidable impact in relation to the COVID-19 pandemic.  Officers reassured members that this was being addressed and that there were ways of working in place for telephone home safety visits. 

 

The Assistant Chief Fire Officer (ACFO) responded to comments on the figures relating to the inspections of high risk premises by confirming to those present that the report demonstrated some positive figures in this area.  In terms of ESFRS’ preparedness the Service continues to have positive performance when compared to other comparable Fire & Rescue Services in terms of attendance times and confinement of fires to the room of origin.  ESFRS would continue to prioritise quality over quantity with regards to its home safety visits, the Service was attending more complex cases and these required additional personnel to ensure that we were giving our residents the best quality service.  Members passed on their thanks to staff for the number and quality of visits being carried out and their appreciation for how these had been adapted during the COVID-19 restrictions.

 

Members suggested the Service consider running a public communications campaign regarding the dangers of hoarding, in the same way it has done with regards to kitchen safety.  The ACFO explained that ESFRS had for some time been focussing on hoarding as an area of concern, as it had needed to make a number of interventions in the past. It is also important to be sensitive to the mental health challenges that may also be an underlying reason and generally there was a multi-agency approach to these cases.  The Chief Fire Officer (CFO) added that historically hoarding had been under reported  The CFO was proud of ESFRS Firefighters for their work on this issue  and for ensuring safeguarding referrals are made   The ACFO agreed to work with the prevention team to see what other work could be done  ...  view the full minutes text for item 22.

23.

IT Strategy 2020-2025 pdf icon PDF 836 KB

Report of the Assistant Director Resources/Treasurer.

Minutes:

The Fire Authority considered the report of the Assistant Director Resources/Treasurer (ADR/T) seeking Fire Authority approval for the East Sussex Fire & Rescue IT Strategy 2020-2025 and the associated funding requirements. 

 

The Authority were given a brief outline of the Strategy, which built on the significant progress that had been made since the decision to outsource IT Services to telent in November 2016 and embark on a transformation programme of the core IT infrastructure and applications.  The IT Strategy deliverables had been developed in support of and aligned with the Corporate Plan.  The deliverables also took into consideration the Integrated Risk Management Plan, Operational Response Review and the findings of the HMICFRS 2019 inspection report.  The Authority were informed that in June 2020 SLT had agreed the priorities for agreed IT Strategy funding as being:

 

·        Mobilising Strategy Project 21

·        CRM

·        Firewatch

·        Performance Management

·        Electronic Document Management System (EDRMS)

·        IT Infrastructure Projects / Office 365

·        Information Security

 

Members were informed that a detailed prioritisation process conducted by the Assistant Directors included a scaling back of the Service’s technology ambitions in line with the priorities and capacity, this had reduced the project funding shortfall to £0.20m (excluding the CRM Project where a report on project costs and the need for additional funding was expected to SLT in the autumn) over the five years of the IT Strategy.

 

The Lead Member for IT thanked officers on behalf of the Fire Authority for their significant work on this strategy document and commended the paper to Members.  There had been a lot of work on improving the IT provision already and this paper took the proposed changes to a new level.  Successes so far included the imminent move to Office 365, improvements to IT security, and the changes to working practices that had to be brought in at speed as a result of COVID-19.  Members thanked the Lead Member for his comments as it was a very technical paper and his reassurance was valuable given his experience in the IT sector.  

 

Some Members raised their concerns about the carbon cost of IT, whilst they were keen on the possibilities of IT reducing travel, there was also significant hidden carbon costs in IT provision.  There were also some questions about whether the outsourcing of IT since 2016 had represented value for money.  The ADR/T explained that Officers had a responsibility for driving efficiencies and whilst this strategy put in place funding, each project would have to produce a business case including identification of benefits (cashable and non-cashable) to unlock that funding.  The ADR/T confirmed that the Strategy document dealt with sustainability, but that ESFRS doesn’t currently measure its IT carbon footprint.  Officers would take away these comments from this meeting and work with telent to look at this in more detail.  The ADR/T advised that it could be expected that the COVID-19 induced IT cultural change would to a significant degree be permanent and there were already associated financial savings being made e.g. in reduced travel and  ...  view the full minutes text for item 23.

24.

Revenue & Capital Budget 2020/21 and Capital Programme 2020/21 to 2024/25 Monitoring at Month 4 pdf icon PDF 481 KB

Report of the Assistant Director Resources/Treasurer.

Minutes:

The Fire Authority received the report of the Assistant Director Resources/Treasurer (ADR/T) which reported to Members the findings of the month 4 monitoring undertaken on the Revenue and Capital Budget 2020/21.  This was the first report to the Fire Authority for the 2020/21 financial year and highlights the findings from the Month 4 monitoring undertaken on the Revenue Budget 2020/21 and 5 year Capital Programme, approved by the Authority in February 2020.  

 

RESOLVED: That the Fire Authority agreed to note:

 

(i)              the risks to Revenue Budget and the projected underspend;

(ii)             the risks to the Capital Programme and the projected in year underspends;

(iii)            the reduced net drawdown from reserves;

(iv)           the monitoring of savings taken in 2020/25 including those savings at risk;

(v)            the current year investments; and

(vi)           that the underspends of £35,000 on travel & subsistence for April to September will be transferred into the Corporate Contingency.

 

 

25.

2021/22 to 2024/25 Strategic Service Planning and Medium Term Financial Plan pdf icon PDF 331 KB

Report of the Assistant Director Resources/Treasurer.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Fire Authority considered the report of the Assistant Director Resources/Treasurer (ADR/T) which set out to roll forward the Fire Authority’s medium term service planning strategy and medium term financial plan for 2021/22 to 2024/25.  The ADR/T explained that financial planning was particularly difficult this year and had been made worse by COVID-19.  The Government had commenced a comprehensive spending review (CSR) covering a 3 year period from 2021/22.  The fire sector had made a strong submission to this, but an outcome was unlikely until later in the autumn with a provisional settlement in December, planning therefore was very difficult.

 

The ADR/T explained that COVID-19 was having a significant impact on both Council Tax and Business Rates, not only in terms of collection, but also base growth.  The report built on the existing Medium Term Finance Plan (MTFP) mid-case scenario and updated the assumptions that underpinned it where possible, highlighting emerging pressures and potential risks.  The revised MTFP indicated a revised funding gap of £1.659m in 2021/22 rising to £2.967m in 2024/25.  In addition it was recommended that the Authority plans for a scenario where the current one off pensions grant does not continue into 2021/22.  This would add a further £1.735m to the savings required in each year.

 

The ADR/T added that budget planning would need to take everything discussed into account.  If the state of the financial challenges ahead were as detailed in this report, efficiencies alone would not be enough, the Fire Authority and Officers would have to consider wider options for savings.  The IRMP, if approved, did present the authority with some further options, in that the original proposals could possibly be re-examined if the wider financial implications necessitated it. 

 

The ADR/T reminded the Fire Authority that there was also a financial risk attached to the Pension Grant.  The Firefighter pension schemes were subject to periodic review, the last revaluation involved a significant increase in employer’s rates in 2019/20.  The Home Office and Treasury agreed that the burden on fire services was significant and they agreed to grant fund all but £10m of the additional cost.  This grant had been extended for a further year, and was not in the base line funding as it was not certain that it would continue.

 

Members agreed that the current financial climate was creating probably the most uncertain future that the Fire Authority had faced.  They felt it very important that the Local Government Association and National Fire Chiefs Council be urged to continue to work with government to sort out the funding of pensions, it was not possible for fire authorities to carry on working on the basis of one off funding when it equated to such a large percentage of our spending capacity.

 

Members were worried most by the implications of the business rates and council tax system, as it is likely Covid-19 will have a dramatic impact on collection rates.  It was felt important that Fire Authorities needed to raise the issue of business rates with  ...  view the full minutes text for item 25.

26.

Draft Integrated Risk Management Plan (IRMP) 2020-2025 'Planning for a Safer Future' - Consultation Results and Modified Proposals pdf icon PDF 1 MB

Report of the Chief Fire Officer.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Fire Authority considered the report of the Chief Fire Officer which presented the results of the public consultation on the proposals laid out in the Fire Authority’s draft Integrated Risk Management Plan (IRMP) 2020-2025.  The first part of the report presented the views of staff, stakeholders and communities.  The second part of the report presented a modified set of proposals based on the feedback from the consultation exercise and engagement with staff and representative bodies.  The report sought the agreement of the Fire Authority on the revised proposals in order to allow a final IRMP, covering the period 2020-2025 to be published.

 

The Deputy Chief Fire Officer introduced the report to those present and reminded the Fire Authority that they had a statutory duty to have an IRMP and that the existing one expired this year.  Formal public consultation on the Fire Authority’s draft Integrated Risk Management Plan (IRMP) 2020-2025 ‘Planning for a Safer Future’ commenced on 24 April 2020, having been agreed by the Fire Authority on 23 April 2020, and ran for an 8-week period.  The views expressed throughout the consultation were subjected to thorough analysis and used to further shape the development of the modified proposals presented to this meeting.

 

The consultation and engagement process included the collection of opinions from staff, partners, stakeholders and the public using a variety of methods including:

 

·        Publication of the review and supporting documents on the website,

·        An online questionnaire hosted by Opinion Research Services (ORS)

·        Internal publications inviting staff to consult on the review

·        Emails/letters to over 650 local councillors, businesses, stakeholders and community groups inviting them to take part in the consultation online and/or to attend a stakeholder webinar

·        Fire Authority Member engagement

·        briefing sessions undertaken by local station managers

·        Station Manager engagement with local organisations

·        6 online public focus groups facilitated by ORS

·        1 online stakeholder webinar facilitated by ORS

·        A representative telephone survey to 600 residents

·        10,000 letters sent to targeted households where there was a higher likelihood of residents not having access to the internet/email/social media.

·        An additional 10,000 letters sent in the latter half of the consultation period targeting specific areas and towns.

 

The Fire Authority were reassured that the public consultation process had been extremely comprehensive with valuable contributions received from partners, members of the public, and other organisations.  In addition, significant feedback had been received from staff and representative bodies.  In parallel to the public consultation, senior officers engaged in meaningful and constructive dialogue with staff representative groups and trade unions, specifically with senior officials of the Fire Brigades Union (FBU).

 

The DCFO took those present through the final proposals for change contained within in the report including:

 

·        Operational Resilience Plan;

·        Changes to duty systems and staffing across day crewed stations;

·        Improving the efficiency and effectiveness of the operational fleet;

·        Changing the way stations in Hastings were crewed, and introducing an additional fire appliance at Bohemia Road;

·        Aerial appliances and other specialist capabilities; managing demand; and

·        The introduction of group  ...  view the full minutes text for item 26.