Advisory panel no longer needed to provide independent assurance to the fire service

 
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Release date: 15 December 2020

An advisory panel set up to provide independent assurance of the improvement of West Sussex Fire & Rescue Service is no longer needed.

The chair of the Independent Advisory Panel (IAP) for West Sussex Fire & Rescue Service today updated a Cabinet meeting of West Sussex County Council that external scrutiny panel was no longer needed given the progress that has been made.

The advisory panel was formed following an inspection by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire and Rescue Services in November 2018.

Ann Millington, Chair of the panel and Chief Executive of Kent Fire & Rescue Service, said that West Sussex Fire & Rescue Service has taken “significant” steps to improve.

She has also written to the Leader of West Sussex County Council and Cabinet Member for the Fire and Rescue and Communities with her decision.

The letter states the service “is moving in the right direction in capable hands” under Chief Fire Officer, Sabrina Cohen-Hatton.

In her letter, Ann Millington, says: ”The progress to date leads me to believe that the steps that West Sussex Fire and Rescue Service have taken to improve the service are significant. It will undoubtedly take time to fully embed the improvements, and the service has a clear plan in place to do so. It is therefore my intention to close the Independent Advisory Panel.”

Her letter outlines progress including:

  • A significant programme of work relating to improving issues relating to people, with clear strategic priorities underpinned by a People Action Plan.
  • The service has fully reviewed its business planning processes and restructured to create capacity and align new internal governance processes that have reduced bureaucracy and enabling more efficient decision making with clear routes.
  • Securing opportunities for effective Member engagement in its activities has since been a clear priority for the service.
  • The service recognises the critical importance of operational resilience and has made significant progress in assuring this.
  • The panel also acknowledged the additional £5.1m funding (over three years) and changes to governance and structure, with the Fire and Rescue Service now under a single leadership model reporting directly to the Chief Executive.

The advisory panel was formed following an inspection by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire and Rescue Services in November 2018.

Reacting to the letter, Paul Marshall, Leader of West Sussex County Council, said: “I am incredibly pleased the Independent Advisory Panel have recognised the significant progress being made by our fire service. This is a big step forward that the panel have decided now is the right moment for them to step back as we continue progress to improve.

“I would like to thank Ann and all the members of the Independent Advisory Panel for their support and guidance.”

See the full letter from Ann Millington.

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