Agenda and minutes

Venue: Council Chamber, County Hall, East Sussex County Council, St Anne's Crescent, Lewes

Contact: Abigail Blanshard 

No. Item


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.


Cllr Galley declared a non-prejudicial interest in agenda item 22 as he was a member of the Cabinet of Wealden District Council.


Apologies for Absence


Apologies had been received from Cllrs Earl-Williams, Pragnell, Sheppard and Smith.


The Chairman welcomed Cllrs Boorman, Bowdler and Fox who were attending as substitutes.


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


The Chairman informed the Authority that he had agreed to accept agenda item 21(a) as a late item.  In his view, it was important for the Authority to respond to the Technical Consultation.  The consultation period closed before the next scheduled meeting of the full Fire Authority.


The Chairman informed the Authority that he had attended the excellent Annual Awards Ceremony in Hastings.  He explained that Staff had enjoyed and appreciated the event and thanked those other Members who had been able attend.


The Chairman informed the Authority that, along with the Chief Fire Officer and the Vice-Chair he had attended the recent Combined Fire Authorities Conference in Milton Keynes.  There had been many useful updates including information on Pensions and wider sector funding issues which he would circulate to Members if they wished him to.



To consider any public questions


The following questions were received from Members of the Public.  As the questioners were not able to attend the meeting to receive their responses in person the Chairman would send a written response to their question.


The questions and responses are included in these minutes as a matter of public record.


Public Question from Dawn Tindall of Sussex Control Centre:


“Why do you think it will be good working practice to go to Surrey to work alongside two Services with poor records, one of which has already divorced our Service?  Better cross border working will not be a good answer as we currently do not use Surrey”




Cross border working is not just about sending appliances from one area to another when there is an incident.  We believe that this partnership offers all the services involved an opportunity to share operational learning and experiences, as well as to provide greater resilience.  In time, this will have the potential to deliver further operational improvements for all three services.  In the short-term, this arrangement would allow the introduction of borderless mobilising between Surrey, East and West Sussex; the latter of which was always an identified benefit from the original SCC project.


We understand that the improvement plan to address concerns raised in the Surrey HMICFRS report has now been delivered.  The Surrey HMICFRS report made a number of references to Surrey Control and the majority of them were positive; for example “confident approach to intelligent call handling” and “good systems to pass on risk information to crews”.


Public Question from Sue Ivatt of Sussex Control Centre:


“Our Chief, Dawn Whittaker, categorically stated that we would never enter into partnership with another Service who are County Council led, so why have we?”




The CFO did indeed say that we would not enter into another Control room arrangement with a single County Council led service after West Sussex took the decision to give us notice and the reason for that was the financial risk associated with that being repeated.  In fact that is a matter of record in the principles established in the Phase 1 of the Mott MacDonald work


However what is now being proposed is not a partnership with a single County service - it is a partnership with two other services, so the financial cost and risk is spread and also we would seek to put in place a much more robust contract agreement with full schedules, unlike that previously in place.


It is important to remind ourselves that the list of options agreed by Senior Leadership Team to be evaluated as part of the Project 21 detailed due diligence process has always contained two options involving Surrey FRS, a fact that everyone in the Service and on the Fire Authority were fully aware of.


The other fact is that in other areas of work we do collaborate with other County Council led FRS, for example in our Occupational Health contract, which involves Surrey FRS and the Police.


Public  ...  view the full minutes text for item 40.


To receive any petitions


There were none.


Non-confidential Minutes of the Previous Meeting pdf icon PDF 305 KB

To approve the Non-confidential Minutes of the last meeting held on 5 September 2019


RESOLVED – That the minutes of the meeting held on 5 September 2019 be approved and signed by the Chairman. (Copy in Minute Book)



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.


Members reserved the following agenda items for debate:


23        Project 21 Future Mobilising – Final Options Appraisal


26        Sussex Control Centre – Exit of WSFRS – Deed of Variations to Section 16 Agreement


Members debated whether or not to bring the exempt appendices to Project 21 Future Mobilising – Final Options Appraisal in to the public Domain.  There was a lengthy discussion regarding the reasons why these two appendices had been deemed to be confidential including for business and contractual reasons.  It was explained that as much as possible had been included in the public report and that there was the potential that ESFRS might be put at a financial disadvantage if all the papers were to be presented in the public domain.  Members took on board the recommendation of the legal officers with regard to exemptions and would be guided by them.  The Deputy Monitoring Officer (DMO) confirmed that the appendix papers contained exempt information and accordingly met the requirement for being in closed session.  The DMO reminded Members that their duty was to protect the interests of the Fire Authority and that with the papers presented as they were the majority, if not all, the debate could and should be held in open session with the debate only being closed if Members needed to. 


Cllr Scott proposed and Cllr Powell seconded a motion to move Agenda Item 25 – Project 21 Future Mobilising – Final Options Appraisal – Exempt Appendices into the public domain. 


Votes: For –                8          Against        9


Therefore the appendices at Agenda Item 25 would remain exempt.


RESOLVED:  That all other reports be resolved in accordance with the recommendations as detailed below.


Local Government Finance Settlement Technical Consultation pdf icon PDF 139 KB

Report of the Assistant Director Resources / Treasurer

Additional documents:


The Fire Authority considered the report of the Assistant Director Resources / Treasurer which sought approval for the Authority’s response to the Government’s Local Government Finance Settlement (LGFS) Technical Consultation.


RESOLVED:  That the Fire Authority agreed to:


       i.          approved the response to the LGFS Technical Consultation; and


      ii.          delegated authority to the Treasurer to finalise the responses in the light of any relevant changes to the NFCC response.


Business Rates Pooling pdf icon PDF 227 KB

Report of the Assistant Director Resources / Treasurer


The Fire Authority considered the report of the Assistant Director Resources / Treasurer seeking approval to participate in a re-established East Sussex Business Rates Pool.


RESOLVED:  That the Fire Authority agreed to:


       i.          approve the authority’s membership of a re-established East Sussex Business Rates Pool;


      ii.          delegate the final decision on whether to participate in the Pool to the Assistant Director Resources / Treasurer after consultation with the Chairman and the Chief Fire Officer; and


     iii.          authorise the Assistant Director Resources / Treasurer to take any steps necessary to give effect to the decision in (ii) above.


Project 21 Future Mobilising - Final Options Appraisal pdf icon PDF 462 KB

Report of the Deputy Chief Fire Officer


The Fire Authority considered the report of the Deputy Chief Fire Officer (DCFO) which presented Members with the outcomes of the final due diligence stage of Project 21 – Future Mobilising Project and sought their approval to implement the preferred option as recommended by the Senior Leadership Team (SLT).


The Vice-Chair addressed the Authority explaining that the Members all accepted that any decision that involved substantial change and a potential financial risk was difficult.  She informed the meeting that Members had received a letter from a member of staff raising personal thoughts on the proposed option, perceived financial difficulties of the county authorities and concerns that the respective Fire Services were not in control of their own finances.  The letter also stated that staff did not feel they had been fully engaged in the process which raised concerns with Members.  The Vice-Chair understood there was an operational balance and the project was very technical but felt the report demonstrated that the Surrey option was potentially a risk and had concerns about their ability to meet the timeline.  It was a large amount of money and in these times of financial difficulty it needed to be a carefully considered decision.  The Vice-Chair proposed a pause in the process requesting officers provide a further report detailing the costings and requirements of a standalone control centre and additionally the possibility of sharing accommodation with Sussex Police on the shared HQ site.  This proposal was seconded by Cllr Powell.  The Chairman asked that this proposal be held aside in order to allow the DCFO to introduce the report and for Members to fully debate the contents.


The DCFO provided the Fire Authority with a brief introduction to the report ensuring that all relevant points were covered.  The DCFO thanked the Sussex Control Centre (SCC) staff and other colleagues for their work on the project.  The DCFO also thanked Mott MacDonald for their support and challenge during the evaluation process.  The due diligence work showed that all four shortlisted options were possible but were not without risk.  It had been clear from the start of the process that each option would impact on staff, not just with regard to IT, but operationally too.  There had been regular staff engagement throughout the process.  SCC staff, members of the SCC technical team and the SCC Group and Station-Managers had been included on the analysis team.


The DCFO explained that the due diligence process had led to the Senior Leadership Team (SLT) being clear on a preferred option which was to partner with Surrey as a member of a tri-service collaboration.  Whilst the North-West (NW) Outsource solution was technologically preferable it was essential that Members considered the operational risk, impact on staff and potentially challenging industrial relations that may result from it. 


The NW Hybrid option was not currently operational and the most expensive.  The SLT were concerned that option would not in SLTs opinion offer the same inter-operability and operational benefits of co-location with a neighbouring service  ...  view the full minutes text for item 46.


Exclusion of the Press & Public

To consider whether, in view of the business to be transacted or the nature of the proceedings, the press and public should be excluded from the remainder of the meeting on the grounds that, if the public and press were present, there would be disclosure to them of exempt information.


Note: Any item appearing in the confidential part of the Agenda will state the category under which the information disclosed in the report is confidential and therefore not available to the public.


RESOLVED: That agenda items no. 25 and 26 be exempt under paragraph 3 of Schedule 12A to the Local Government Act 1972 as amended by the Local Government (Access to Information) (Variation) Order 2006 and accordingly are not open for public inspection on the following grounds: they contain information relating to the financial or business affairs of any particular person (including the authority holding that information).


Project 21 Future Mobilising - Final Options Appraisal - Exempt Appendices

Exempt Appendices to Report of the Deputy Chief Fire Officer


The Authority considered the items contained within these Appendices during their open discussion on Agenda Item 23.  There was no reference made to the specific confidential details and therefore it was not necessary to move into closed session.


Sussex Control Centre - Exit of WSFRS - Deed of Variations to Section 16 Agreement

Exempt Report of the Deputy Chief Fire Officer