Strategic intent - agreement on future of property assets

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Detailed proposals on the long term property requirements of the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service (SFRS), were considered at a Board meeting in Aberdeen today (26 September).

Following the merger of eight fire and rescue services into a single national Service on 1 April work has been underway since June to consider the future shape of the national Service in terms of its required properties and infrastructure.

Currently the organisation has an inherited infrastructure of eight organisations but today’s proposals sought agreement from the SFRS Board on how that could be rationalised over the coming years to best serve a national organisation and help deliver the benefits of a single service.

The proposals contained in the document entitled Strategic Intent take into account the current assets (not including fire stations), which exist across Scotland.

The report recommended an approach which will rationalise properties to remove duplication in order to meet the financial challenges faced by the organisation.  It is anticipated that resource budget savings of c£4.8 million per annum could be realised through property rationalisation with money invested to create a fit-for-purpose, cost effective support estate that is strategically located across Scotland's communities.

The Board agreed the paper with one amendment that the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service would retain three Fire Controls, one of which will be Johnstone. Further work was requested by the Board to identify the location of the two other controls from a choice of Edinburgh, Dundee, Aberdeen and Inverness. The SFRS agreed to report back on these options in the near future.

Talking after today’s Board meeting Chief Officer Alasdair Hay said: “I am pleased that we have had an early decision from the Board on our intended direction of travel in the coming years. If we are to deliver on the benefits of reform, that is to protect the frontline, improve access to specialist resources and services across the country and strengthen our local relationships with communities across Scotland, rationalising our properties and creating an infrastructure that will service one, national organisation is critical.

“This is not something that will be achieved overnight. It will take a number of years and requires a detailed implementation plan. What I can say is that we are committed to ensuring community safety and firefighter safety and that any changes we make will not compromise those two critical tenets of our organisation.

“What we are aiming to achieve with the plans discussed today is that as a national organisation we ensure that we have the right facilities across Scotland to allow us to deliver our vital frontline services. From identifying a headquarters for the new organisation, to where our workshops and training assets will be situated and of course our Control Rooms. Control play an integral part in how we deliver our services and I can assure the public we will do nothing to compromise that, ensuring we have resilient and robust plans in place to support the SFRS and deliver safer communities.

“Now that we have this agreement from the Board we can commence a programme of more detailed engagement with our community planning partnerships and other key stakeholders. I will also be visiting staff in all the SFRS locations mentioned within our plans to speak to them and hear their views. “

Chair of the Board Pat Watters said: “I recognise that the plans discussed today will affect a number of our staff and naturally everyone is concerned when there is change. It is important to stress these changes will take a number of years and we will be working closely with staff and representative bodies as we develop implementation plans. But what I do think is important is that staff can now see where the SFRS would like to be in a number of years’ time and this certainty on our direction of travel is something they have been asking for. What we need to do is support staff through this process because we need to make these changes with them and we cannot deliver our services without their support and commitment. Already since the inception of the new Service a significant amount of positive work has been achieved. Now the direction of travel for the Service's Strategic Intent has approved by the Board this paves the way for specific work over several months on detailed business cases in respect of each of the assets.”

Note:

The Strategic Intent document identified the following, long-term Service needs agreed by the Board today:

  • A single national training centre at Cambuslang (Clydesmill) with accommodation facilities,
  • Four strategically located Asset Resource Centres accommodating fleet, equipment and ICT workshops at Newbridge; Seafield Road, Inverness; and two new centres, one in the West (Greater Glasgow/Lanarkshire area – motorway access) and one in the North East (A90 Aberdeen-Dundee corridor), 
  • One main ICT Data Centre at Johnstone with an off-site Disaster Recovery facility, 
  • Three Control Rooms one at Johnstone; further work to determine location of two further control rooms from option of Aberdeen, Dundee, Edinburgh, Inverness
  • Three Service Delivery Headquarters at Mounthooly Way, Aberdeen (North); Newbridge, Edinburgh (East), and Bothwell Road, Hamilton (West), although it is recognised that Hamilton is under-utilised in this capacity and as such will be kept under review, 
  • A new national Headquarters located in the area bounded by Perth, Edinburgh and Glasgow.

The Strategic Intent document proposed releasing the following SFRS assets agreed by the Board today:

  • Scottish Fire Service College at Gullane, along with the associated houses
  • Cowcaddens, Glasgow (retaining the fire station)
  • Lauriston Place, Edinburgh (steps will be taken to ensure continued public access to heritage assets (Museum of Fire) in Edinburgh)
  • Maddiston, Falkirk
  • North Anderson Drive, Aberdeen (retaining the fire station)
  • Thornton, Fife
  • Temporary Headquarters, Whitefriars Crescent, Perth.

 

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