Thursday, September 18, 2008

Fire Authority - Initial Budget Skirmishes

The Fire Authority met today. Together with the Mayor's two nominees, we are one short of a majority and - as everywhere - the other three parties have ganged up, although what they plan to do with their barely held power is not yet clear.

The Chairman, Brian Coleman, made it very clear that he will be seeking a 0% increase in the authority's budget next year. Given the financial pressures on Londoners, this has to be the correct approach, but it will involve making administrative cuts and some areas e.g. the Fire Brigade Museum at Southwark, are under threat. Interestingly the Lib Dems agreed that there should be savings, so Nick Clegg's message from the seaside is being heard loud and clear.

The main grumbles from the other groups were about lack of consultation, rather than concrete alternative proposals. A long budget setting process lies ahead.

Reversing Policy

The Brigade reported an increase in traffic accidents involving fire engines. The bumps and scrapes were happening not when racing to the scene of fires, as you might expect, but when reversing! It can't be easy, reversing a large vehicle in tight spaces, but a reversing policy is being introduced to ensure good practice is followed.

New Control Centre

As part of the government's plan to modernise emergency control centres around the country, London is to get a new state of the art centre. Unfortunately the government haven't come up with the money - sounds familiar - so we need to find £10 million over the next four years. This is a serious challenge to an authority with a relatively small budget, particularly as the current control centre dates from 2003 and is not yet obsolete.


weggis said...

I note that GB Inc has had a few bumps and scrapes when reversing recently. Perhaps GB needs a reversing policy?

Now it's about time that local and regional government decided that if the central government want something done but don't stump up the wonga, then you don't bloody do it.

Roger Evans said...

Of course TB used to say he had 'no reverse gear', thus saving those awkward bumps.

As for not stumping up, we were in a similar position a couple of years ago when we had to find £11m for 'resilience' i.e. anti terror incident equipment. The Lib Dems wanted to tell the government to get stuffed, but in the end it didn't seem very responsible. Imagine if we had a dirty bomb and no kit to deal with it because we had refused to pay...

weggis said...

It seems to me that central Government are rather adept at using blackmail and terrorism themselves.