Page 19 - HOT NEWS OCT 2015
P. 19

THE FINAL WORD
Next month sees the Chancellor publish the Autumn Statement and the outcomes of the Comprehensive Spending Review which will give us a clearer understanding of the scale of the financial challenge we will face over the remainder of this Parliament.
Once we have analysed what the Spending Review means for the Service, we will be in a much better position to update staff as to the extent of the structural changes we will have to make in terms of, for example, station closures. We may also be clearer on the extent of the devolution plans for the Liverpool City region, which could see an elected Mayor take political responsibility for the Fire and Rescue Service and the Police.
I recognise that the last round of Principal Officer briefings only concluded in September, however we will very likely undertake another round of briefings before the end of the year, as we recognise the need to share as much information with staff as we are able to.
September also saw the Government launch a consultation on proposals to increase joint working between emergency services, in order to improve effectiveness and deliver savings.
A response will be submitted to the Government by the Authority, but staff are also encouraged to discuss the consultation with their managers and to submit their own response where they wish to.
The measures being consulted upon are:
• Introducing a new duty on all three emergency services to actively consider collaboration opportunities with one another to improve efficiency and effectiveness;
• Enabling Police and Crime Commissioners to take on the duties and responsibilities of fire and rescue authorities, where a local case is made;
• Where a Police and Crime Commissioner takes on the responsibilities of a fire and rescue authority, enabling him or her to create a single employer for police and fire staff, facilitating the sharing of back office functions and streamlining management;
• In areas where a Police and Crime Commissioner has not become responsible for fire and rescue services, enabling them to have representation on their local fire and rescue authority; and
• Abolishing the London Fire and Emergency Planning Authority and giving the Mayor of London direct responsibility for the fire and rescue service in London, as will be the case in Greater Manchester.
The consultation was published on 11th September and runs until 23rd October.
The Government consultation can be found at:
https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/ena bling-closer-working-between-the-emergency- services
As you will be aware, the Service already engages in extensive collaboration with our Emergency Service partners whether that be through the Joint Control Centre or with the co-location of the North West Ambulance Service on a number of our stations, so we are well placed to meet the Government’s expectations, whatever the outcomes of the devolution bid or PCC consultation process might be.
Finally, the 12-week consultation over the proposed merger of Eccleston and St Helens fire stations at a new station on Canal Street finishes on 25th October. The first public meeting was held on 29th September with a further two meetings arranged for 1st October starting at 6.30pm at St Augustine of Canterbury Catholic High School, Boardmans Lane, Blackbrook, St Helens, WA11 9BB, and on 6th October starting at 6.30pm at St Helens Town Hall, Corporation Street, St Helens, WA10 1HP.
The proposals are intended to minimise the impact of the ongoing cuts to the Authority budget and maintain as fast a response as possible to all parts of St Helens district.
Following the conclusion of the consultation, a further report will be submitted to the Authority detailing the outcomes of the consultation and any operational implications raised as part of the process.
Dan Stephens
Chief Fire Officer
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