9 Regional Issues
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Merseyside Fire & Civil Defence Authority agrees with the views of the Government that more collaborative work can and should be undertaken at regional level, but also strongly believes that control of the fire and rescue services should remain with local fire authorities

In order to achieve appropriate collaborative work, the Authority agrees to the joint discharge of the following functions and activities by the fire authorities of Cheshire, Cumbria, Lancashire, Manchester and Merseyside

  • ensuring resilience to emergencies, especially potential chemical, biological, radiological or nuclear attack
  • developing specialist or common services
  • establishing regional control rooms
  • introducing regional based procurement or procurement to national standards (e.g. provision of a firelink radio system)
  • developing regional training strategies and delivery
  • introducing regional personnel management and human resource management functions
  • any regional dimension of integrated risk management plans
  • anything which is calculated to facilitate, or is conducive or incidental to any of the above functions

Merseyside Fire & Civil Defence Authority has agreed to the appointment of a joint committee of the North West Fire Authorities with effect from 18th November 2003 with delegated powers on behalf of the Authority to determine matters in respect of the functions identified above, comprising of 17 voting members (or their substitutes) to be appointed by the Authorities in accordance with the principles of political balance which are currently as follows:

  • Cheshire Fire Authority – 2 members ( 1 Labour : 1 Conservative )
  • Cumbria County Council – 1 member ( 1 Conservative)
  • Lancashire Combined Fire Authority – 3 members ( 2 Labour : 1 Conservative)
  • Greater Manchester Fire & Civil Defence Authority – 7 members ( 4 Labour : 1 Conservative : 2 Liberal Democrats)
  • Merseyside Fire & Civil Defence Authority – 4 members ( 2 Labour : 1 Liberal Democrat : 1 Conservative)

The exact constitution of the joint committee is dependant upon acceptance of the above agreement by each of the constituent Fire Authorities.

The Joint Committee has been requested to determine its own standing orders governing its operation.

The Chief Fire Officer and all other appropriate officers have been requested to assist the Joint Committee in determining and implementing the relevant matters within its remit

10 Financial Risk Management
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Financial Implications

Merseyside Fire and Civil Defence Authority is committed to allocating its resources so that it maximises their impact in reducing the risks from fire for the people and businesses of Merseyside. Brief details of the proposals are set out below but these will be developed in more detail as the Authority approaches its budget and medium term financial planning cycle for 2004/2005.

Overall financial position

Merseyside Fire & Civil Defence Authority recognises that it remains a relatively high cost and high council tax authority and has for a number of years successfully sought to move closer to the average of other metropolitan fire authorities. The Authority has set a budget of £69.669 million for 2003-04. The Authority has issued a precept on the five Merseyside District Councils of £20.636 million, which is equivalent to a Council Tax of £49.59 for a Band D property.

The Authority continues to face strong financial pressures and in particular:-

  • Ongoing increases in costs from firefighters pensions
  • The likelihood that under the current central government method for allocating grant the Authority is likely to face relatively low levels of grant increases.
  • The impact of modernisation and in particular managing the implementation of the firefighters pay agreement (averaging 16%) in conjunction with delivering the savings and improvements required.

However, the Authority is committed to continue to reduce costs relative to other Metropolitan Fire Authorities.

The Authority budget makes significant provision for the Authority’s world leading CFS work

  • Carrying out HFRAs
  • Fitting free smoke alarms
  • Bilingual Fire Safety Advocates
  • Community work with the most vulnerable to fire
  • Working with young people to reduce fire-setting

The Authority is committed to continuing this investment and will seek to recycle efficiencies to allow more resources to be allocated to preventative work whilst maintaining the very high standards it has set for its emergency response service.

New developments

Merseyside Fire and Rescue Service has to respond to the national and international agenda and the Authority will allocate resources in conjunction with the five districts of Merseyside to ensure that it will be in a position to respond to any situation of major emergency resulting from terrorism or other threats.

Managing Financial Risks

The assessment and management of risk has been an integral part of the Authority’s process of budget making and choosing the appropriate level of financial reserves for several years now. The Authority is therefore well placed to respond to the new statutory demand to consider these issues in the Local Government Act 2003.

The financial risks at present include:-

  • Impact of a firefighters pay deal
  • The full impacts of modernisation
  • Ongoing pensions increases
  • Uncertainty about firefighter retirement profiles
  • Impact of regionalisation
  • Industrial relations history and potential cost of alternative fire cover
  • Litigation costs
  • Risks associated with large capital projects
  • Inflation and interest rate exposure

Capital Assets

We have a total of 26 fire stations (at which are housed our 42 front line appliances) which are located as follows. The numbers in brackets are the number of fire appliances currently at each location.

Knowsley Kirkby (2), Huyton (1), Whiston (1)
Liverpool Kirkdale (2), Croxteth (2), Low Hill (2), City Centre (2), Toxteth (2), Allerton (1), Speke/Garston(2), Old Swan (2), Belle Vale (1)
Sefton Bootle/Netherton (2), Aintree (1), Crosby (2), Formby (1), Southport (3)
St. Helens St. Helens (2), Newton-le-Willows (1), Eccleston (1)
Wirral Wallasey (2), Birkenhead (2), Bromborough (2), Heswall (1), Upton (1), West Kirby (1)

The map in the introduction shows the location of these stations. To see the map click here.

We also have a Headquarters building in Bridle Road, Bootle and a Control Centre at Derby Road, Bootle, a vehicle workshop in Speke and a Safety Training Centre in Croxteth.

It is proposed to relocate our Control Centre to the Headquarters site but this is dependant upon discussions concerning a regional Control Centre.

It is not currently proposed to relocate any of the fire stations other than City Centre although the results of the RAPID analysis may point to this in the future.

We will look to collaborate with the other emergency services on Merseyside to see if there are opportunities for increased efficiencies arising from shared accommodation.

City Centre Fire Station

Liverpool City Council has entered into a major partnership arrangement with a developer for the area including Canning Place. As a result, the current station is due for demolition and the developer is building, at no cost to the Authority, a new fire station at St. Anne Street, Liverpool. This is scheduled for completion in 2005 and upon completion City Centre fire station will relocate to the new building. This site has been identified, with the assistance of Liverpool City Council officers, as meeting the needs of Merseyside Fire and Rescue Service for the foreseeable future.

The vision for future development of Liverpool city centre is for an increased population. The current station is partly constrained by its proximity to the river due to its former coverage of the docklands and relocation of City Centre fire station to the new location will provide a more advantageous position for a response, both reactive fire suppression and proactive community safety, to the whole station ground, including the proposed new developments. It will also allow connection to the primary road routes through the city centre and give improved access to residential areas. Furthermore, relocation presents options to build a modern community centred facility to replace an outdated building.

There will be slight changes to the boundary with Toxteth fire station to ensure that appliances responding can continue to meet the response times set out elsewhere in this document. Her Majesty’s Fire Service Inspectorate has commented upon the relocation proposals and is satisfied that the (previous) national fire cover standards could be met from the new site. In light of this advice, the Secretary of State was minded to approve the relocation as detailed here although such approval is no longer required under the IRMP.

The above comments are subject to the outcome of a public enquiry into the development proposals for the Paradise Street/Canning Place area which is currently under way (September 2003).

©Merseyside Fire & Rescue Service