Issue - meetings

North Wales Fire & Rescue Authority Update

Meeting: 16/11/2017 - Corporate Resources Overview & Scrutiny Committee (Item 42)

North Wales Fire & Rescue Authority Update


(a)       That the representatives of the North Wales Fire & Rescue Authority be thanked for their attendance and contribution to the meeting;


(b)       That the report be noted and its clarity and brevity approved;


(c)       That changes to the material included within Council Tax bills, to explain North Wales Fire & Rescue Authority funding to Council Tax payers, be investigated;


(d)       That a case for necessary changes to national legislation be pursued to provide greater transparency in Fire & Rescue Authority funding;


(e)       That both Cabinet and the County Council be made aware that the Committee has given due consideration of the Fire & Rescue Authority levy charge and the need for an increase; and


(f)        That the Flintshire representatives on the Fire & Rescue Authority be made aware at an early stage of the Council’s position on an increase to North Wales Fire & Rescue Authority funding.


The Chief Executive welcomed Councillors Meirick Lloyd Davies and Peter Lewis (Chair and Vice-Chair) and Dawn Docx (Deputy Chief Fire Officer) of the North Wales Fire & Rescue Authority (NWF&RA) to the meeting.


The Deputy Chief Fire Officer gave a presentation on the future of the Fire & Rescue service covering the following topics:


·         Community Safety

·         Special Service Calls

·         Response and Business Fire Safety

·         How much does it cost to run?

·         Capital Budget

·         Reserves 2017/18

·         Budget Pressures

·         A Steady Strategy


The Chief Executive said that the presentation reflected budget pressures which reconciled with those of the Council.


Councillor Cunningham asked about the possibility of introducing charges to provide much-needed investment in services.  The Deputy Chief Fire Officer explained that charges for incidental special services did not generate significant income and that there were difficulties in charging for provision of safety advice due to the conflict of interest.


Following comments by Councillor Jones, it was explained that due to the financial position of the NWF&RA, decisions had been made to reduce or stop certain services - such as large animal rescue - which were not mandatory, taking into consideration the risk levels involved.


During discussion, it was explained that the budget pressures faced by the NWF&RA had reached a position where a balanced discussion was needed to identify further efficiencies.  The options for consideration were to request an increased levy from councils or to reduce provision in the region’s station cover.


Councillor Jones said that if residents were made aware of the prospect of further cuts, they may be willing to pay an additional £3 per year per household to protect services.  The Chief Executive advised that the NWF&RA levy was paid from the Council Tax and that any increase in the levy would be a cost pressure upon the Council.  He said that a recommended further increase to the 2017/18 Council Tax to accommodate the higher levy for the NWR&RA had been dismissed by Members, resulting in a budget pressure for the Council.  Councillor Jones felt that residents may support the additional levy if it was ring-fenced within the Council Tax amount.


The Chairman suggested that as legislation did not permit this, a note could be included with Council Tax bills to show the NWF&RA levy.


The Chief Executive said that Members may wish to make a recommendation to give creative consideration to the literature produced to put with the Council Tax bill.  He suggested a further recommendation for Cabinet and Council to give due consideration to any suggested increase in the levy charge.  Councillor Peter Lewis, the Vice-Chair of the NWF&RA, requested that the Council give an early steer on its response.


The recommendations were supported by the Committee, along with the suggestion to make representations on changes to legislation and Councillor Woolley’s proposal that the report be noted for its clarity and brevity.


As this was her last meeting before taking up a new role in Greater Manchester, the Chairman thanked the Deputy  ...  view the full minutes text for item 42