Agenda item

Isle of Anglesey County Council response to the North Wales Fire and Rescue Service - Emergency Cover Review

To submit a report by the Chief Executive.


The report of the Chief Executive incorporating the Council’s response to the North Wales Fire and Rescue Services – Emergency Cover Review was presented for the Executive’s consideration. Documentation published as part of the consultation was included at Appendix B to the report along with the Council’s feedback to the options presented under Appendix A.


The Chief Executive presented the report and referred to the significance of the consultation given that its outcome could influence the nature of the service on the Island, specifically emergency response times. Most of the NW Fire and Rescue Service’s funding is derived from a levy which is set annually and which is then apportioned between the six North Wales authorities on the basis pf population. The Council’s contribution to the levy comes from its net revenue budget but details of the levy is not included on the Council Tax statement. The Chief Executive referred to the financial pressures under which public services are operating at the present time and that the consultation may be an indication of things to come in terms of the squeeze on the Fire Service’s budget and potential reconfiguration of the provision which may mean some areas paying more for less. The Council’s position is that it wishes to receive the best possible service with no increased costs if possible, and that it opposes any reduction in the level of service on the Island. The Council is also keen to see that front line services are protected and that consideration is given to identifying efficiency savings in other areas within the operating structure and working practices of the NW Fire and Rescue Authority e.g. central and training costs.


The Executive Manager (Leadership Team) confirmed that the draft response document at Appendix A summarises the Council’s perspective and the main concerns raised. The Chief Fire Officer has provided a response to several questions and the document has been amended accordingly.


Executive Members Councillors Carwyn Jones and Gary Pritchard spoke to endorse the Council’s opposition to Option 3 which would see the closure of one of the Island’s Retained Stations at Beaumaris. They expressed their concerns about the impact on the southeastern area of the Island which the implementation of this option would have as regards response times and consequently the safety of the communities in the area with the nearest response possibly having to come from off Anglesey with the added complication of the congestion on the Menai crossings.  This represents a reduced service which increases the threat to life. Further points were made about the need for greater transparency in the reporting of the NW Fire and Rescue Service’s costs including central costs and for information about the Service’s levy to be included on Council Tax bills in the interests of public and ratepayer awareness. A suggestion was made that a local review of the service would be helpful to establish whether the Council is obtaining value for money for its contribution which was confirmed by the Chair and Portfolio Member for Finance as being over £4m per annum. The Chief Executive also referred to the provision at RAF Valley which although intended to serve the base could also be a source of support if required. It was agreed that those comments be added to the response.


Councillor Gwilym O. Jones, Vice-Chair of the Partnership and Regeneration Scrutiny Committee reported on Scrutiny’s response to the consultation and draft response. He confirmed that  the Committee at its meeting on 19 September 2023 had accepted the draft response and had recommended the response to the Executive as a basis for a final response subject to drawing the attention of the Leadership Team to the additional information provided by the Chief Fire Officer; the need for a review of the Service’s central and administrative costs to include input by Section 151 Officers as a basis for setting the levy in future; inviting Welsh Government to consider the propriety of including details of the levy on Council Tax statements; the additional costs involved in all three of the proposed options and the implications of Option 3 in the context of weather impacts, the resilience of the bridges and an isolated population.


It was resolved to accept and approve the Council’s draft response to the North Wales Fire and Rescue Service – Emergency Cover Review in Appendix A to the report and to include as additional comments a reference to the provision at RAF Valley and the need for a local review of the service provided.


Supporting documents: