12 Consultation
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Consultation and Communication

The successful implementation of risk planning requires participation and involvement from our key stakeholders whose views may influence the Fire Authority’s decisions on the future provision of the service.

We recognise that consultation needs to be diverse if it is to fulfil both local concerns and strategic priorities and have developed a Communications Strategy, which aims to generate awareness, understanding and support for risk planning.

We hope to achieve this by providing frequent messages, through pro-active communication, and by obtaining views and opinions through proven consultation techniques.

Initially, we will communicate the core messages via leaflets, newspaper articles. We will then carry out a period of consultation on the key issues arising from our draft plan. All consultation will be proportionate to the nature and extent of any changes proposed, and will be with those groups, that may be directly affected by the proposed changes.

In delivering our Communication Strategy we aim to ensure that all of the communication and consultation activities we carry out will assist in successfully introducing risk planning within Merseyside. In doing so we hope to improve public safety by seeking to generate an understanding of the broad role of the fire and rescue service, so that our stakeholders understand why risk planning needs to be introduced throughout the region and support its implementation.

At the end of our consultation period, the Fire Authority will consider all of the responses received before any final decision is taken with regard to the implementation of the IRMP. This process will be conducted in a fair manner in which all views and opinions will be weighed against the aims and the specific content of the overall plan. Our monitoring of feedback and response to it will demonstrate to people that what they say is being heard.

Following this phase it is anticipated that final IRMP and the annual Action Plan will be published in April 2004

Strategy

This strategy identifies how we will raise awareness among the public, staff, opinion formers and other stakeholders about how Merseyside Fire Authority intends to communicate the changes we will make to improve our fire and rescue service in the next years.

We have identified:

  • Principles of communication
  • Target audiences - their needs and interests
  • Communication tools to be used
  • The Authority's lead spokespersons
  • Methods for feedback/ evaluation/ review
  • Timetable for communications

Principles of Communication

This Plan demonstrates how, where and why change is necessary to reduce deaths, injuries and damage caused by fire and other incidents. By creating a climate of awareness and understanding we will promote active stakeholder involvement in the development of the plan, encouraging informed public debate on the key issues. Through this we aim to gain support for changes resulting from this process.

The success of the strategy will be evaluated by the feedback we receive – both formal and informal – from our workforce and stakeholders.

To achieve this it is essential that there is a themed approach, which recognises that communicating what is a complex set of changes, must be at both a regional and local level.

Target Audiences

  • Our own staff, both uniformed and non-uniformed employees
  • General Public
  • Business Community
  • Public Representatives
  • Local Authorities, Public Agencies, Other Emergency Services
  • Community Organisations
  • Media
  • Her Majesty’s Fire Service Inspectorate
  • Office of the Deputy Prime Minister
  • Audit Commission

Communication Tools

  • Internal staff briefings
  • Merseyside Fire and Rescue Service Website
  • Local and regional media briefings and press releases including on-line access
  • Public Meetings at five Local Authority districts
  • Information displays at selected public and staff events
  • Focus Groups
  • Newsletters for staff
  • Meetings with opinion formers and stakeholders

The Authority’s Lead Spokespersons

  • Chair
  • Chief Fire Officer
  • Deputy Chief Fire Officer
  • Party spokespersons on the Authority
  • Other Senior Officers as required

Methods for Feedback/ Evaluation/ Review

  • Feedback mechanisms will be built into all publicity material, paper and electronic
  • Material will be offered in other formats for people with specific needs
  • We will give regular updates on progress, demonstrating how we are responding to public staff / stakeholder feedback
  • Communications will be cost-effective, legal and comply with Local Government Publicity Code and all other relevant legislation

Timetable for Communications

This IRMP will be published on 23rd October 2003. A period of consultation will begin on that date and end on 6th February 2004. During this period the communications flow will be consistent, although special emphasis will be given to the beginning of the period in order to facilitate the optimum amount of feedback from all parties.

Independent Scrutiny

As part of our commitment to an approach based on knowledge rather than assumption, we will engage independent risk management consultants to review our risk assessment processes and outcomes to ensure they conform to best practice in risk management techniques.

This report will be publicly available when complete and will be considered by the Authority before it approves a final IRMP and Action Plan.

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