Minutes of Meeting of the Highland and Islands Fire Board held in the Town Hall, Lerwick, on Friday, 10 September 2009 at 2.00 p.m.
Representing the Highland Council:
Mr R Durham, Mrs L Munro, Mr D Mackay, Mr D Flear, Mrs I Campbell, Dr A Sinclair, Ms M Smith, Mrs M E Paterson
Representing Comhairle nan Eilean Siar:
Mr N MacleodMr I Mackenzie
Representing Orkney Islands Council:
Mr A Drever
Representing Shetland Islands Council:
Mr A Cooper, Mr E Hunter, Mrs H Carmichael, Mrs P Munro, Mr D Henderson,
Mrs B McAllister (Substitute), Mr J Crawford (Substitute), Mr J Ford,
Mr D Fallows, Mr P Carlin, Mr C Nicolson, Mr R Leslie, Mr A Duncan
Officials in attendance:
Mr B Murray, Chief Fire Officer
Mr J Donaldson, Deputy Chief Fire Officer
Mr T Johnson, T/Assistant Chief Fire Officer
Mr M Jenks, HIFRS Finance Manager
Mr A Macleod, HIFRS Property Manager
Mrs M Grigor, Treasurer’s Office
Mr J Kelman, Project Manager, Housing and Property Service, The Highland Council
Ms M Morris, Clerk
Mrs R Moir, Assistant Clerk
Mr R Durham in the Chair
1. Apologies for Absence
Apologies for absence were intimated on behalf of Mr J Gray and Mr R Balfour, the Highland Council.
2. Board Membership Update
The Board NOTED formally the following changes in Highland Council appointments to the Board:
Mrs L Munro (replacing Mr G Rimmel)
Mrs P Munro (replacing Mrs L MacDonald)
Mr J Crawford (replacing Mrs L Munro)
3. Queen’s Birthday Honours List
The Board NOTED that Mr William (Billy) Muir, a Retained Fire Fighter on the Island of North Ronaldsay, Orkney, had been awarded the MBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List on 13 June 2009, for services to the community.
4. Minutes of Meeting of 24 April 2009
There had been submitted for confirmation as a correct record the Minutes of Meeting of 24 April 2009.
The Board APPROVED the Minutes.
5. Matters Arising
In relation to item 10 of the Minutes, concerning the Working Time Directive, the Chief Fire Officer confirmed that, no EU agreement having been reached on the proposals previously made to remove the UK opt-out, the proposals had fallen and the status quo remained meantime. It was, however, likely that the matter would arise again and robust UK data on its implications was being assembled in preparation.
The Board NOTED the position.
6. Minutes of Audit Working Group – 21 August 2009
There had been circulated Minutes of Meeting of Audit Working Group 21 August 2009.
The Board APPROVED the recommendations of the Working Group and so AGREED to homologate the delegation of powers to the Treasurer, in consultation with the Chairman of the Audit Working Group, to deal with the requirements of International Standard on Auditing 260; and NOTED that a progress report on Single Status would be brought to a future Board meeting.
7. Minutes of Integrated Risk Management Plan Working Group -
21 August 2009
There had been circulated Minutes of Meeting of Integrated Risk Management Plan (IRMP) Working Group held on 21 August 2009. There had also been re-circulated Reports Nos. IRMP4-09 and IRMP5-09, previously circulated to that meeting of the Working Group. A presentation was given updating Members on progress with the IRMP, with particular reference to the IRMP Risk Review Phase 2 Sustainability report and the recommendations made for 15 stations identified as presenting serious sustainability issues.
The Convener advised Members that he and the Shetland Members had hoped to visit the island of Foula the previous day, to make the inhabitants aware in advance of the meeting of the recommendation, supported by the Working Group at its August meeting, that, due to the lack of recruits to the island’s retained unit and the consequent inability to provide a safe and effective intervention response, the status of the unit on Foula be changed from an intervention role to that of a Community Response Unit undertaking Community Fire Safety information and education only. Due to weather conditions, the visit had taken place only that morning, prior to the board meeting, with Mr A Cooper also in attendance, Mr A Duncan having unavoidably been unable to participate then at such short notice.
Mr Cooper confirmed that the local community on Foula had been shocked to learn what was proposed. He urged Members not to take a decision at this time to change the status of the unit, but to give the community, like others identified in the report, a further 12 months to reach the necessary recruitment level, now that the island’s inhabitants fully appreciated the implications of failing to do so. The Chief Fire Officer confirmed that numerous approaches had been made to the community over many months to canvass applications, without the necessary numbers coming forward. However, Mr Cooper suggested that, being now faced with the reality of the consequences of this lack of response, the community would prove more proactive, in order to preserve what they saw as an essential service. Mr Duncan indicated that he would second a motion by Mr Cooper to amend the recommendation in the circulated report so that the Foula unit be allocated a twelve month period in which to recruit sufficient numbers and demonstrate that they could provide a safe and effective response.
During lengthy discussion, several Members supported Mr Cooper’s position. Whilst there were some concerns as to whether, out of such a small population, this unit could in fact recruit and maintain a viable, fully trained crew, the general view emerged that it was important for the overall sustainability of a remote and fragile community that the inhabitants be given every encouragement and opportunity to remedy the current position. It was generally acknowledged that the answer lay in the community’s own hands; it was important, however, that the Board be kept informed as to progress in order to be able to monitor the situation.
After discussion, the Board NOTED that the Minutes of the Working Group should have recorded an apology from Mrs P Munro and APPROVED the following recommendations, these having been presented to and supported by the Working Group, with the exception of the recommendations relating to Foula:
i. that the Board accept the recommendations of the Risktec Solutions
report on validation of the Capital Build Programme methodology;
ii. that the Board approve the detailed recommendations contained in the
IRMP Risk Review Phase 2 Sustainability Report appertaining to the 15
named stations, with the exception of the recommendation on Foula;
iii. that, given its remote location and the need to support the sustainability
of the island community, the Foula unit be allocated a twelve month
period in which to recruit sufficient members and demonstrate that they
could provide a safe and effective response; but, if this did not prove
possible and the station and local community were not able to
demonstrate an appropriate level of performance within the next twelve
months, that the Board change the Foula role to that of a CRU delivering
CFS information and education only; and that the CRM department
continue to review the risk associated with Foula as part of the ongoing
Risk Review process;
iv. that a report on the recruitment availability and process at Foula and at all
stations identified as under threat in terms of sustainability be produced
for each Board meeting, to inform Members of progress; and
v. that a Phase 2a report be submitted on those stations whose
performance impacted upon future analysis of the full network, with a
view to promoting performance improvements and involvement in the
Risk Review process.
8. Revenue Expenditure 2009/10 – Monitoring Statement
There had been circulated Report No. Fire-20-09 dated 31 August 2009 by the Chief Fire Officer setting out the current position of the Revenue Monitoring Statement for the period to 31 July 2009.
The Board NOTED the report.
9. Capital Out-turn Report 2008/09
There had been circulated Report No. Fire-21-09 dated 31 August 2009 by the Treasurer summarising the final capital position relating to the Board’s capital programme recorded in the ledger as at 31 March 2009.
The Board NOTED the report.
10. Capital Expenditure Monitoring Report 2009/10)
There had been circulated Report No Fire-22-09 dated 31 August 2009 by the Chief Fire Officer showing the expenditure and income relating to the Board’s capital programme for the period to 31 July 2009, together with statement by the Treasurer.
The Board NOTED the report.
11. Pensions Funding
There had been circulated Report No. Fire-23-09 dated 18 August 2009 by the Treasurer advising that a re-determination of Revenue Support Grant in 2008/09 had increased funding to Constituent Authorities for Fire Pension commutations by £0.235m, and that agreement was needed to request that this funding be paid over to the Board.
The Board NOTED the report and AGREED that the Treasurer make a request to the Constituent Authorities that they pay to the Board £0.235m received by them in Revenue Support Grant in support of increased costs of Fire Pension commutations.
12. Community Planning Partnership Engagement and Single
There had been circulated Report No. Fire-24-09 dated 31 August 2009 by the Chief Fire Officer advising Members of the approach that the Service was adopting to ensure the appropriate level of engagement and support for the Community Planning Partnerships which developed Single Outcome Agreements and led joint work within each of the Constituent Authorities.
The Board NOTED the report and the Service’s plans for engagement with the Community Planning Partnerships operating within each of the Constituent Authorities; and AGREED to write to the chair of the Orkney Community Planning Partnership to request that an Orkney Board member be invited to sit on that panel.
13. Fire and Rescue Framework for Scotland 2009 – Consultation
There had been circulated Report No. Fire-25-09 dated 31 August 2009 by the Chief Fire Officer advising Members of the publication of the Draft Fire and Rescue Framework for Scotland 2009 and setting out a draft response from the Service on behalf of the Board, which highlighted the need to strengthen the Framework’s provisions on fire-fighters on the Retained Duty System.
The Board NOTED the report and APPROVED the draft response appended to the report.
14. Scottish Fire Conveners’ Forum Update
There had been circulated Report No. Fire-26-09 dated 1 September 2009 by the Clerk introducing a briefing note on recent discussions at the Scottish Fire Conveners Forum, which had encompassed topics such as the flooding review commissioned by the Scottish Government; the government’s Resilience Strategy and contingency planning; future distribution of Fire capital grant; training investment strategy; and the wider reform agenda.
In speaking to the report, the Convener advised Members that the Forum had now acknowledged the particular difficulties faced by this Board in meeting the capital requirements of its upgrade programme and now supported the argument, in discussions with COSLA and the Scottish Government on Fire capital distribution, that this be regarded as an issue of national priority.
The Board NOTED the report.
15. Corporate Governance
i. Scheme of Delegation
There had been circulated Report No. Fire-27-09 dated 1 September 2009 by the Clerk recommending updates to the Scheme of Delegation.
The Board APPROVED the revised Scheme of Delegation, subject to, in addition to the circulated recommendations, deletion of the following from the remit of the Policy and Finance Working Group: “(b) consideration of proposals for the development of a Board Public Private Partnership (PPP) project”.
ii. Standing Orders for the Conduct of Meetings
There had been circulated Report No. Fire-28-09 dated 1 September 2009 by the Clerk recommending a number of amendments to Standing Orders.
The Board APPROVED the revised Standing Orders for the Conduct of Meetings.
16. Contract Standing Orders
There had been circulated for approval Report No. Fire-29-09 by the Chief Fire Officer dated 31 August 2009 recommending updates to the Board’s Contract Standing Orders.
The Board APPROVED the revised Contract Standing Orders.
17. Role Descriptions for Members
There had been circulated Report No. Fire-30-09 dated 1 September 2009 by the Clerk recommending the introduction of Role Descriptions for the Convener, Vice Convener and Board Members, which would inform a planned training needs analysis for Members and also assist in preparing for the pending Best Value Audits of all fire authorities in Scotland.
The Board AGREED to adopt the circulated Role Descriptions.
18. Post of Chief Fire Officer
There had been circulated Report No Fire-31-09 dated 27 August September 2009 by the Clerk briefing Members on the appointment process for a new Chief Fire Officer, the current Chief Fire Officer, Mr Brian Murray, having intimated his intention to resign as from January 2010.
The Board AGREED:
i. to homologate the action of the Clerk in confirming the Board’s
acceptance of the Chief Fire Officer’s notice of retirement, following
consultation with Board Members;
ii. the proposed timetable and process for the appointment;
iii. to establish a Chief Officers Appointments Sub-Committee comprising
those Members who previously sat on the Appointments Sub-Committee
for the post of Deputy Chief Fire Officer, with delegated powers to fill any
chief officer vacancies arising during the term of this Board; and
iv. that the Deputy Chief Fire Officer cover the role and responsibilities of the
Chief Fire Officer during any period between the retirement of the
current postholder and the arrival of his successor.
19. Gender Equality Scheme
As agreed at the Board’s meeting held on 22 April 2008, the Clerk, in consultation with the Convener, Vice Convener and the Board’s Equality and Diversity Champions, Mr J Ford and Mrs H Carmichael, had prepared and published the Board’s annual report on its Gender Equality Scheme (GES) by the deadline date of 30 June 2008. The Action Plan attached to that Report indicated that the Board, as part of its review/scrutiny function, would receive a copy of the Chief Fire Officer’s GES annual report for information.
In this context, there had been circulated and was NOTED a copy of the Highlands and Islands Fire and Rescue Service’s Gender Equality Scheme Annual Report 2008-09, as published on the Service’s website.
20. Capital Programme Monitoring Report
There had been circulated Report No. Fire-32-09 dated 28 August 2009 by the Director of Housing and Property of the Highland Council summarising the status of all current key projects carried out for the Board.
Having heard the Project Manager respond to a number of questions on specific projects, the Board NOTED the report.
21. Site Acquisitions Progress Report
There had been circulated Report No. Fire-33-09 dated 28 August 2009 by the Director of Housing and Property of the Highland Council summarising the status of the acquisition of sites for future development.
The Board NOTED the report.
22. Operational Update
There had been circulated Report No. Fire-34-09 dated 31 August 2009 by the Chief Fire Officer setting out performance information for the Service for the year 2009/10 to date.
The Chief Fire Officer also provided a verbal report on recent operational activities, including fire and flooding incidents, and highlighted various Service successes, including in recent extrication team competitions.
The Board NOTED the update and the performance data provided and AGREED:
i. to invite the Head of Corporate Services and the Head of Engineering and
Supplies to attend the Board’s November meeting to offer the Board’s
thanks and good wishes on their respective retirements; and
ii. to reaffirm the Board’s decision, taken in September 2007, that
equipment or clothing surplus to the Board's requirements could be
donated to the charity "Blythswood Care" for distribution to East
23. Schedule of Meetings
The Board NOTED that a report recommending a full schedule of meetings for 2010 would be brought to the November meeting of the Board and in the meantime AGREED that:
i. the Board’s first meeting of 2010 be held on Friday, 29 January 2009, in
ii. should there be a need for a prior meeting of the Policy and Finance
Working Group to consider the budget, this be held on Friday, 15 January
2010, and that arrangements also be made for a preliminary meeting of
the Working Group to consider the budget, to be held in November
iii. a meeting of the IRMP Working Group also be held on 15 January 2010.
24. Exclusion of the Public
The Board resolved that, under Section 50A(4) of the Local Government (Scotland) Act 1973, the public be excluded from the meeting for the following items on the grounds that they involved the likely disclosure of exempt information as defined in of Part 1 of Schedule 7A of the Act, the relevant paragraphs being shown.
25. Scottish Resilience
There had been circulated to Members only Report No. Fire 35/09 dated 31 August 2009 by the Chief Fire Officer on the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service Resilience Delivery Plan, regarding the contribution of the Fire and Rescue Services to Scotland’s National Resilience Strategy.
The Board NOTED and endorsed the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service Resilience Delivery Plan.
26. Estate Management
Paragraphs 6, 8 and 9
There had been circulated to Members only Report No. Fire 36/09 dated 2 September 2009 by the Chief Fire Officer on a number of Estate Management issues.
The Board NOTED the plans and progress on Value Engineering and the review of Capital Investment Planning in a Best Value context; and AGREED:
i. the acquisition of Building 2 at Baltasound, as detailed, for conversion to a
Fire Station, subject to statutory consent;
ii. the proposals for 37C Harbour Road, Inverness, as detailed, for a short
term solution to the ongoing requirement for suitable additional office
space for HQ;
iii. the rental of the garage property at Scalloway, as detailed, as a
temporary measure to close the Service gap there;
iv. to homologate the action of the Chief Fire Officer, in consultation with
the Convener and Vice Convener, in declaring surplus to requirements the
former Fire Station at Aultbea and confirming that arrangements be made
for its disposal; and
v. to retain the area of land adjacent to Dunvegan Fire Station previously
declared surplus to requirements.
27. Acquisition of Land at St Margaret’s Hope, Orkney
Paragraphs 6, 8 and 9
There had been circulated to Members only copy report from the District Valuer on terms agreed for the acquisition of an area of land at St Margaret’s Hope, Orkney.
The Board HOMOLOGATED the acquisition following consultation with the Convener and Vice Convener.
28. Principal Officers’ Pay
There had been circulated to Members only Report No. Fire 37/09 dated 27 August 2009 by the Clerk on the annual review of Principal Officers’ pay.
The Board APPROVED the terms of the report.
The meeting ended at 5.55 p.m.