The Deputy Mayor welcomed the Chief Fire Officer, Chris Davies and the Area Manager, Peter Greenslade, of the Mid and West Wales Fire and Rescue Authority, to their annual meeting with Council.
Council noted the current position in relation to Welsh Government’s White Paper, and noted that the consultation had closed in February 2019. Welsh Government was at present analysing the responses received.
The Chief Fire Officer outlined the Fire Authority’s current financial position, in particular it was noted that any future cuts would not be efficiency savings but would have a negative effect on service provision. Mr Davies outlined various options that would be considered during the 2020/21 budget round. Details of the pay claim for 2020-2021 were noted which could have a significant impact on budgets. In relation to the reserves currently held by the Fire Authority, it was noted that this equated to 1.5% of the budget, which was below the 3% specified as good practice by CIPFA.
Members noted the incidents and operational challenges facing the Fire Authority going forward. Mr Davies advised that the remit of Home Safety Checks would be expanded to include Health and Wellbeing and that fire officers would then liaise with relevant officers of the authority should it be necessary.
Details of the responses to the Public Opinion Survey were noted, in particular the view that the service provided good value.
Following the above presentation Members raised the following:-
· Whether the Health Authority recompensed the Fire Authority for its work as co-responders. It was confirmed that there was a cost recovery agreement in place.
· Members questioned whether the existing peppercorn leases in place should be replaced with market rate leases? In response Mr Davies advised that the positions were reviewed annually.
· Members asked how much time was spent as co responders and were advised that it was around 16% of the ambulance red calls, which was manageable.
· Members asked at what point would the Neath Fire Station be under threat of being downgraded and were advised that both Neath and Port Talbot Fire Stations had been assessed with a view to replacing both fire stations with a new build fire station in Baglan, however this was not being progressed.
· Members were pleased that the Fire Authority offered accommodation for community use.
· The Fire Authority was thanked for its response to the recent flooding within the County Borough.
After being thanked by the Deputy Mayor, Mr Davies and Mr Greenslade withdrew from the meeting.