Venue: Virtual Meeting
Contact: Rob Castle 033022 22546 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Election of Chairman
The Task & Finish Group to elect its Chairman.
1.1 Cllr Dennis was elected as Chairman of the Task & Finish Group.
Declarations of Interest
Members and officers must declare any pecuniary or personal interest in any business on the agenda. They should also make declarations at any stage such an interest becomes apparent during the meeting. Consideration should be given to leaving the meeting if the nature of the interest warrants it. If in doubt please contact Democratic Services before the meeting.
2.1 Cllr Kitchen declared a personal interest in item 4 (Horsham Fire Station & West Sussex Fire & Rescue Service Training Centre) as a member of Horsham District Council.
The Task & Finish Group to agree its terms of reference.
3.1 The Task & Finish Group agreed its terms of reference.
Report by the Director of Law and Assurance.
A Joint Task and Finish Group of members of the Performance and Finance and Fire and Rescue Service Scrutiny Committees has been convened in order to scrutinise the proposed decision for the delivery of a new Horsham Fire Station and Fire and Rescue Service Training Centre.
The Task and Finish Group is asked to comment on the draft Cabinet decision report (to follow), and provide comment to Cabinet prior to the formal decision being taken.
4.1 The Task & Finish Group (TFG) considered a report by the Executive Director Place Services and the Chief Fire Officer which was introduced by Sabrina Cohen-Hatton, Chief Fire Officer, who told the TFG: -
· Currently, fire fighters had insufficient access to practical training such as using breathing equipment. The new facility would address this and also ensure incident commanders had sufficient training
· The new facility would also provide high-rise scenario training in line with national requirements
· The facility would also provide hot fire training which currently had to be done through other organisations such as Gatwick Airport during the day and was not always available and not possible for retained fire fighters
· The present site in Horsham was outdated and lacked the space and facilities needed for a modern fire and rescue service
· The new site was close to the old one and was in a good location with easy access to the A24
· It had been hoped to offer training to other fire authorities but the market for this was not assured
· It was also hoped to get revenue from energy produced on site, but there was insufficient space
4.2 Summary of responses to members comments and questions: -
· Response times would remain within the target for the local area and improve very marginally on a service-wide basis
· Joint use of the site with other blue light services had been explored, but was not viable, however future collaboration was not ruled out
· The site had capacity for more staff than presently employed, but it was not known how this would be affected by any possible future re-organisation of local government
· The facility would make training more accessible to all staff, especially retained fire fighters
· The fire station would be open 24/7 and it was hoped that the training centre would be open during every day and evening
· It was not envisaged that any restrictions would be put on the site during the planning process
· Similar sites were estimated to cost between £7.5m and £8.5m. The Horsham site was expected to be more, but the benchmarking analysis suggests there may be opportunities to lower costs as the project progresses therefore the contingency of £2.5m should be viewed as a cap at the top end of expectations
· The building was expected to be viable for fifty years
· The maintenance cost (£90k per year) was based on the same number of burn hours per year as a site in South Wales. If the site operated more burn hours the maintenance costs would increase
· There was little space on site for other activities, but the buildings would be designed for flexible use
· Existing training facilities around the county would be surplus to requirement and likely to be sold raising approximately £3.8m between 2022 and 2024
· The TFG was broadly happy with the proposals but would like to see detail in the report from the business case on what would happen to surplus sites and a financial implications comparison with no site being built ... view the full minutes text for item 4.
Members of the Task & Finish Group to agree comments and/or
recommendations to be forwarded to Cabinet for consideration prior to the decision being taken.
5.1 The TFG made the following recommendations: -
The Task & Finish Group asks the Cabinet Member for Fire & Rescue and Communities to ensure: -
i. That any planning conditions are appropriately flexible in terms of the training facility at Horsham, to enable training capacity to be sufficient for future purpose
ii. That future business cases contain an appropriate level of financial detail to ensure members are able to fully scrutinise proposed decisions
iii. That more information on the current approximate level of receipts is included in the draft decision report
iv. That a “do nothing” option with details is added to the draft decision report
And the Task and Finish Group
v. Endorses the delivery of the Horsham Fire Station and training centre as detailed in the report, including the financial implications of the proposal and agrees that the project should be given priority in the capital programme
vi. Requests that “as a matter of urgency” is added to the end of recommendation (2) as detailed in the draft decision report