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Fire Services

Volume 498: debated on Monday 2 November 2009

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government if he will require local authorities to ensure that (a) there will be no compulsory redundancies as a result of the FiReControl project and (b) (i) the Fire Brigades Union will be fully recognised within the workplace and (ii) the Fire Service Grey Book pay, terms and conditions will apply to the service after implementation of the project. (295736)

Decisions on staffing levels, terms and conditions and union recognition are for the employers—currently the fire and rescue authorities and then the local authority controlled companies and the London Fire and Emergency Planning Authority once the regional control centres are up and running.

Under TUPE legislation, transferring staff’s current terms and conditions will transfer with them to the regional control centre. Union recognition is a matter for the employers but if a sufficient percentage of staff are members of a union then recognition is automatic.

Redundancies should be a last resort. The Department has provided guidance to the employers to encourage them to explore all possible avenues including, for example, redeployment and retraining.

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what progress has been made on the implementation of the FiReControl programme; and what difficulties have been encountered in that implementation. (295876)

Good progress has been made on a number of fronts: eight out of nine regional control centres (RCCs) buildings have been built, fire and rescue authorities have come together to form regional local authority controlled companies to run the RCCs and equipment installation in local fire stations is on track.

However, in July we rescheduled the implementation timetable. It became clear that technical problems with developing the IT system in a way which met all our and the fire and rescue services’ requirements meant that further time would be needed to complete the project. The first RCCs are scheduled to take calls from May 2011.

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government how many new fire stations were built in (a) England, (b) the West Midlands and (c) Shropshire in (i) 2006, (ii) 2007 and (iii) 2008. (296002)

This information, which is reported in financial year returns to the Department, is shown in the table.

Number of new fire stations in England, the West Midlands region and Shropshire 2006-07 to 2008-09

2006-07

2007-08

2008-09

England

3

0

0

West Midlands

0

0

0

Shropshire

0

0

0

Source:

Annual returns to CLG

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what the initial estimate of the cost of the regional FiReControl project was; and what his most recent estimate is of the final cost of the project. (296413)

[holding answer 29 October 2009]: I refer the hon. Member to the answer given to the hon. Member for Copeland (Mr. Reed) today (PQ 295869).

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what evidence was assessed by his Department prior to proposing to create one body responsible for the governance of Firebuy Limited, FireLink and FiReControl; and if he will make a statement. (296547)

The proposal that in future the national procurement function for the fire and rescue service should be carried out in a larger body also responsible for the management of the service contracts for the Fire and Resilience Programme, once they become operational, was based on an analysis of the options for the future delivery of these roles. The basis for the proposal and the options considered were in the Department's consultation paper on Fire and Resilience Programme In-Service Management published on 13 July 2009.

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government how many responses were received in respect of the consultation which closed on 5 October, on merging the functions of Firebuy Limited, FireLink and FiReControl into one body; and if he will make a statement. (296548)

The Department received 39 responses to the Fire and Resilience Programme In-Service Management Consultation.

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government if he will place in the Library a copy of the In-Service Management Consultation document in respect of the amalgamation into a new body of the existing FiReControl, FireLink and Firebuy functions; and if he will make a statement. (296550)

The consultation on the options for the in-service management of the Fire and Resilience Programme was published on the Department's website in July 2009. A copy will be placed in the Library. The Department will publish its response following the consultation later in the year.