THIS CONSULTATION IS NOW CLOSED.
THE FINAL DECISION ON WHETHER TO PROCEED WITH A COMBINED FIRE AUTHORITY WILL BE TAKEN BY HAMPSHIRE FIRE AND RESCUE AUTHORITY AND ISLE OF WIGHT COUNCIL IN JANUARY 2019.
Hampshire Fire and Rescue Authority (HFRA) and Isle of Wight Council (IWC) have asked for the views of residents and stakeholders on the proposed creation of a new Combined Fire Authority for Hampshire, Isle of Wight, Portsmouth and Southampton.
There is increasing pressure on all Fire and Rescue Authorities to ensure they are operating in the most efficient and effective way and this is particularly important due to reducing budgets.
Any changes to the governance arrangements in Hampshire and the Isle of Wight will not affect the statutory duty of the services to respond to emergencies. There would be little effect on the day-to-day operations of both services.
A full report into the potential benefits and risks of forming a Combined Fire Authority is also available.
There are also reports available on the recent reviews of fire and rescue services by both HFRA and IWC.
Feedback will help to inform the approach that the Hampshire and the Isle of Wight’s Fire and Rescue Services and their governing bodies take to the proposed creation of a Combined Fire Authority.
The results will inform whether a new Combined Fire Authority will be created across Hampshire, Isle of Wight, Portsmouth and Southampton.
What would happen to the Identity of the Fire and Rescue Service should the proposal to create a new Combined Fire Authority proceed?
We are not anticipating that the identity of each Fire and Rescue Service would change should the proposal to create a new Combined Fire Authority be agreed. Staff would continue to wear the same uniform and use the same badge.
How would each of the councils be involved in a new Combined Fire Authority?
There would be changes to the current governance arrangements under a new Combined Fire Authority. Councillors would be appointed from and by each of the constituent authorities (Hampshire, Isle of Wight, Portsmouth and Southampton). The number of members from each authority would need to be determined by a new Combined Fire Authority. This would be proportional based upon the number of people who are registered on the electoral roll for each authority area.
What happens to my Council Tax payment should the proposal to create a new Combined Fire Authority proceed?
For residents on the Isle of Wight, the share of local authority council tax would reduce, as it would no longer include fire and rescue services. However, a new separate charge would be included from the new Combined Fire Authority. A calculation has been done which indicates that IWC residents currently pay around £62.00 per Band D property for the Fire and Rescue Service. The Council Tax for HFRA in 2018/19 is £65.74 per Band D property, which is £3.74 higher than that charged for IWFRS by IWC.
Everyone within a single Combined Fire Authority area needs to pay the same for the services that are provided. Therefore, residents on the Isle of Wight living in a Band D property would initially need to pay £3.74 more per year for their fire and rescue service if a new Combined Fire Authority was created. This would mean that an equal amount was paid by all residents who were served by the new Combined Fire Authority.
Residents in Hampshire, Portsmouth and Southampton would therefore see no changes to the Council Tax they pay for the Fire and Rescue Service due to the creation of a new Combined Fire Authority, as they already pay that amount.
If a new Combined Fire Authority was agreed locally and the Government gives permission for it to be created, it is the Government that would ultimately determine how much Council Tax should be charged, taking into consideration the financial position of both authorities. Therefore the changes explained above around Council Tax harmonisation would be a decision made by Central Government.
Why was the Consultation done by Hampshire County Council?
There was a tendering process to select a partner for us to work with. The consultation is being supported by the HCC Insights team and this is carried out independently and on behalf of the IWC and HFRA. This team are experienced in running consultations. We have also worked with The Consultation Institute, which is a not-for-profit best practice Institute, promoting high-quality public and stakeholder consultation in the public, private and voluntary sectors - https://www.consultationinstitute.org/
Will I transfer to the Combined Fire Authority as a member of staff?
The employment contracts of all existing employees of the two fire and rescue services would transfer to a new Combined Fire Authority should it be created. If it is agreed for the Combined Fire Authority to go ahead, a new Integrated Risk Management Plan (IRMP) would influence the future shape of the service and resourcing requirements. At the current time, we do not expect there to be impacts on staff as a direct result of the proposed creation of a new Combined Fire Authority. Should future discussions identify impacts on staff, these would be explored and discussed with individuals.
There will be the opportunity for staff to discuss the proposal during the consultation period. Initial discussions have been started with trade unions and representative bodies across the two organisations.
Will I get a Fire Engine coming to my house from HFRS/IWFRS?
The way in which fire engines are mobilised in an emergency would not change as a result of a new Combined Fire Authority being progressed.
Would the IW Council still control the IWFRS should the proposal to create a new Combined Fire Authority proceed?
The IWFRS would come under the responsibility of the Combined Fire Authority of Hampshire Isle of Wight, Portsmouth and Southampton should it be created, as would Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service. A Combined Fire Authority provides fire and rescue services to the communities across all areas for which it has a responsibility.
How can I find out more about the CFA?
More details are available via this link: www.hantsfire.gov.uk/consultation