Fire board picked for run-in to changes

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The last Central Scotland Joint Fire and Rescue Board has been appointed.

Representatives of Falkirk, Stirling and Clackmannanshire councils elected its convener and vice-conveners at a meeting last week.

Councillor John Hendry of Stirling will be in charge until a national fire service replaces the current eight boards in Scotland next year.

His vice-conveners will be Labour colleagues Rosie Murray of Falkirk and Derek Stewart of Clackmannanshire.

Falkirk Council will also be represented by Labour councillors Dennis Goldie and Alan Nimmo, the SNP’s Cecil Meiklejohn and David Alexander and Independent Billy Buchanan; Stirling by Conservative Callum Campbell and Graham Lambie of the SNP; and Clackmannanshire by Irene Hamilton of the SNP.

The board, which holds the chief fire officer to account, scrutinises the service’s activities and controls the budget, is due to be replaced in April by a new Scottish Fire Service which will be overseen by a national Board.

Councillor Hendry said: “I’m delighted to take over at this crucial stage and hope Central Scotland Joint Fire and Rescue Board can make a major contribution to the transition of the service.”

It was agreed to continue the appointment of members to the board’s committees until the end of the month.

Ahead of the Scottish Fire Service being established, the board will meet in September, December, January and March.

The board was given an update on the progress of the Police and Fire Reform Bill by Lorna Gibbs who is heading up the process for the Scottish Government.

She said it is going through the final stage of the parliamentary process and is expected to be ‘rubber-stamped’ by MSPs before they start their summer holidays this weekend.

Between July and next April key parts of the framework to deliver a single fire and rescue service covering the entire country will gradually be put in place to allow the role and responsibilities of all eight services to be transferred from local authorities to a National Board by the ‘go live’ date of April 1, 2013.

The new board of seven to 11 members will be responsible along with the Chief Officer for delivering a strategic plan covering the following three years.

Each council will still have a role to play, though with a Local Senior Officer responsible for involving the local authority in agreeing priorities and objectives for fire and rescue services in the local area.

Lorna Gibbs said: “The new service and new board will have control by April but the people of Scotland can expect the same high level of service. The key core functions of Scotland’s firefighters will remain exactly the same.”