Fire Diversity and Inclusion Champions Network: Benefits of Staff Networking transcript

Find the transcript for the video included in the Fire Diversity and Inclusion Champions Network session.

Cllr Rebecca Knox, Dorset and Wiltshire FRA:  Thanks very much, Rachael. Welcome, everybody, to this webinar this afternoon. The last time I think we all met, or many of us would've done was in July, when we had a really good presentation on positive action. For those of you who missed it, that is on the website if you need to refresh your, your memories, on that presentation. Yes, as, Rachael said, sadly, Fiona had to get called away. And so, I'm stepping in this afternoon. I do do some of the Southwest workshops, so some of you might know me from there, but I'm actually chairman of the Dorset and Wiltshire (mw 00.42) Authority and a member of the FSNC and the NJC. So, a really important network, this is, and I'm delighted that it's just growing and growing and the awareness of it is, is increasing across all memberships of the Fire and Rescue Authorities. Today, we are focusing on the benefits of staff networks. We've got some excellent speakers in our first presentation, who I'll introduce in a minute. And we, of course, always are looking at ways in which positive networks can help both us as councillors, but that integration with our staff and helping to understand the challenges that our staff face, both as a workforce but also within our individual communities and the residents whom we serve. This first presentation will be the main part of the first structure of the meeting. Each of the presentations are, I want to say, about twenty minutes, about fifteen minutes.

But I understand there might be a video, so we might want to give time for that. But of course, questions to follow after that. If you want to indicate that you would like to ask a question, the chat box will be monitored and we'll pick up with you after the presentations, if that's okay. If it's an absolutely burning issue, then please say so. But otherwise, put 'right to speak', 'RTS' and we'll make sure that we take those in order and perhaps by subject, if that arises. There is then going to be a very short break. Please don't go away, because the next session is really important, because it's actually some really key questions that we want to ask those of you on the call. And although it says 'breakout sessions', it's one set of questions, but I just thought that because so many people are on the meeting, to give people the opportunity to talk about those, we just thought we'd go into smaller groups. And let's hope that will work. Because there is a huge amount of people on here today, which is fantastic. Then, we all get back together and have a reflection on what everyone's been saying from those questions and we should be finishing just before 4 o'clock. So, I'm going to, unless I've missed something out, I hope not, oh, there's already eleven in the chat box. Lots of 'hellos', I think. Nothing on the question side. So, I'm going to hand over to our first speakers, who are from Avon Fire and Rescue Service, Anna James and Zoe Baker-Powell. So, I'll leave you to introduce yourselves and your responsibilities at your authority and what you're going to be presenting today. Thank you all.

Anna James, Avon FRS:  Thank you, Rebecca. Welcome, everybody. Good afternoon.
So, I'm a watch manager at Avon Fire and Rescue. I'm currently stationed at Weston-super-mare Station. I'm speaking today because I'm the chair of Avon's Staff Engagement Network. So, I'm just going try and share my screen and I'm praying my IT works today because it's not the best. So, I did kind of, I didn't misread the brief, but obviously, the brief was the benefit of staff networks and as always, I've gone slightly out of my brief. And I'm talking about it as a whole. Some of the disadvantages, as well, because I think it's important to cover the balance of the great things that it does, but also, there are sometimes some downsides to it. So, firstly why do we have Staff Engagement Network? Well, we had a pretty damning cultural survey and HMICFRS report in 2018. And this quote kind of sums up the issues that we were facing. And the service, it was found the service's leadership is trying to engage with staff, but staff told us about inappropriate behaviour, and insensitive language and they said they did not have a voice in the service. So, obviously, from that we needed to take some action. We were, it's no secret in a pretty dire place with regard to our staff and people. So, out of this came the Staff Engagement Network. I hated the name. To me, it's 'Special Educational Needs', but it was already in place when I took over about eighteen months ago.
It was set up in 2018 and originally the idea was to have a core group. And it was core group members across the service. When I took over and I was the only volunteer to be chair and I did have a Vice and a joint Chair at the time, one of whom promptly left the service and the other one who had a baby and an extension so had to give up the role. But I thought that it was better to leave it open and encourage everyone in the service, whatever their role, whatever their place, to be a member and to be a member how they wanted to be a member. So, people come to meetings sometimes, they can dip in and out of a meeting, they can come to every meeting. They can contribute, they can contact me and bring subjects up. So, I try and make it as open as possible. We do meet monthly. Obviously, originally, it was at different locations around the service and the service leadership, we do pay members to come if they're coming out of their duty hours. So, we try and make it as open as possible. The objectives. I'm not going read them all out, but they're there for you to see. And for me, alongside these objectives, what was really important was really adhering the service and all members of staff, including service leadership, to our values. So, when we set up the new behaviour framework in 2018, there were some core values that came out of that. And that was to be honest, inclusive, respectful, transparent, ambitious and transparent. And I think that SEN, now, makes sure that those are upheld in decisions that are made.
We sit on the SLT every month. So, we have a voice and we take subjects directly to service leadership. And at the same time, we take things back from service leadership, back to the staff. So, what do we discuss? We discuss all sorts of things. So, this one, I'll go into in a minute. I like to use pictures that people find interesting. I like to use humour. Sometimes, to my detriment. So, areas of discussion that we've talked about in the past have been paper use, wellbeing areas, mobile phones on trucks. Now, this one was when we had to talk about sickness. Now, funnily enough I think the most discussed topic that we had through SEN, that people were really, really happy to engage with was the use of paper across the service. I think, because it wasn't controversial, it was kind of affecting everybody and something that everybody supported, everybody wanted to get involved. Sickness, not so much. We had quite a dire sickness record in the service. I think we were second or third in the country, the worst. So, we needed to talk about it. And the week before this came out, the Chief had done a blog and he'd headlined it, 'Honesty,' and about it being one of our values and we need to be honest about sickness. So, in my wisdom I thought, 'Oh, I'll find something. A jokey picture about honesty.' And this 'courage' came out, I thought, 'That's brilliant.' Two of our values. Put it up and said, 'We need to talk about sickness.' To which, I received somewhat of a backlash from the Fire Brigade Union and also Unison saying that I was insinuating people were lying about being sick, which I wasn't.
And it, kind of backfired a little bit, but it did get people talking so we saw that as a positive thing. And we managed to have a meeting with the FBU and managed to smooth it all over and make sure they realised that we weren't going against their, kind of objectives. Another thing that we looked at and quite a success really for the Staff Engagement Network and probably a good example of how a network can really work well for an organisation, was alerttomobilisation. So, we were measured on the time it took us from the time of the call and the time of the alarms going off on the station and the alarm would go off with a voice command telling us what appliances were going to going out the door. The aim was 90 seconds and we were falling quite short of that at the time. I think we were about 54%. And service leadership (TC 00:10:00) asked us to improve it. It didn't improve. So, then they said, 'Right, we're going take the voice commands away, so you won't know what's going out. So, you all get up and go out quicker rather than waiting to see which appliances are going out.' Nobody was very happy about that. The voice commands were very useful to us, it would give us an idea as Officer in Charge as to what we were going to, what was going and it gave us a bit of a, because it would say whether it was a fire, flooding or RTC. So, you sort of knew about planning before you got onto the truck. So, we went to SLT and said we weren't happy and could this be sort of reconsidered.
And they were very ambitious and courageous about it and they actually said, 'Okay, we'll give you a chance to make the stats better and we'll leave the voice there.' Which they did. I then did a lot of talking to a lot of Watch Managers saying to them, 'We have this chance to improve this ourselves.' And next month, it actually went up 10%. So, it went to 67% of hitting the target, which was a huge improvement.

So, it just shows that actually, if you put responsibility onto the staff and you engage with them in the right way then it can be a really positive thing.

So, that's just how I feel sometimes, when you do a lot of work and there's a lot of good things that have come out of the Staff Engagement Network and there is still quite a negative connotation to it, where people are, 'What have you ever done for us?' So, that's just how it feels sometimes. But it's been quite positive. We have grown. I've found a lot of different ways, or I've tried a lot of different ways, of engaging people. So, one of the ones I've used is bribery. Good, old fashioned bribery. So, I managed to get a small budget from Finance for food. So, one of the things I did was offer made up breakfast meetings, bribed people with cakes and fruit and pastries. That worked quite well. Also made a false claim that Michael Bublé was coming to the Christmas meeting. So, hopefully some people turn up to that. Obviously, he wasn't there but I don't mind how I get them there. We also tried with locations. We look at the staff groups that attend. So, this is kind of a breakdown of the staff groups that are attending. So, we did identify that obviously, on call were quite low.
We did hold a meeting at an on-call station in the evening and we had zero on call staff attend. So, we do our best to engage staff members. So, that sometimes means we phone them up inviting them personally, getting to chat to them and that has increased. I'm just aware of time. So, we us Workplace quite a lot for our communication. It's really good. It's like Facebook. So, it's kind of a two-way conversation. Again, I use pictures I use short videos and things to advertise meetings. We put meeting minutes on there. Meeting minutes are also available online, as well. And I do use email and I do use - we have got an intranet page, as well. Recently, we did an event. I identified that staff mental health was suffering with COVID as is everybody really. So, I knew that mental health was a big issue for the Fire Service and for us and that the number of calls to our welfare departments had increased massively. So, I decided to do something about it, and we set up an online 'How are You Doing?' event, we had a talk from our fitness instructor about food, nutrition and exercise. We had a doctor talking about COVID and then we had a lady from a charity called 'To Wish Upon a Star', talking about the trauma of losing a child. And her charity is supporting, not just parents, families but anybody and also professionals. And her talk was amazing.
It was an hour and it was just really, really powerful. We actually got the presentation. We had about 30 people live, and another 60 odd people watched it as a recording. So, we actually reached 10% of the entire workforce with that event. And people are still talking about it, a month down the line. So, since then the Staff Engagement Network has increased its profile. People are now mentioning it a lot more, they're starting to engage with it more. We had 20 members at our last meeting, which is really good and obviously, now we're using Zoom. That's been quite a good thing for us. We've got webcams on all stations so that watchers can actually attend as a whole. So, that's been a really, really positive move for us. So, I'll stop sharing my screen and I hope you're still all there because I can't see anything. And I'll open it to go back to Zoe. I know she's got a bit more about some further networks that we've got.

Zoe Baker-Powell, Avon FRS:  Thank you, Anna. It's nice to see everybody here. I do recognise some of the names and faces here. One or two. Just to introduce myself. I'm Zoe Baker-Powell, I currently am heading up a programme management office for a new transformation programme. I've been with the service fourteen years and have been very much an active participant in our cultural journey. And I have recently agreed to be one of the vicechairs to the Staff Engagement Network. So, Anna and I will work, we will be working very closely together. So, I'm just going share my screen with you, if you just bear with me a moment. Hopefully, you can all see that okay. So, I won't take up much of your time. I'm aware that you've got a packed agenda. So, I'm just going to give you a very brief overview of something that we're doing in addition to the Staff Engagement Network. It's around our Cultural Advocate Network. So, just following on from what Anna was saying earlier about the statutory inspection that we had back in 2018. And part of that was to run an independent culture review. And on your screen, there you can see the four themes that came out of that. And over 70% of our workforce were telling us that these were the areas. Three of them. Three of these bullet points are of most concern. Which is around management style, how people were feeling about, you know, stress levels and some other, deeply entrenched divisions between some of our work groups. And thankfully, there were some positives in there about how people were feeling.
You know, about the sense of pride that they hold for working with the Service and the sense of teamwork. So, also in 2018, this is something that our Chief Fire Officer brought in, was to sort of in order to have a bit of a clean slate we introduced six new values. And we asked staff to vote for these, for these six values, essentially. Like many other organisations, it essentially says who were and what's important to us. So, since that culture review, which was closely followed by the HMICFRS inspection, we've been making steady progress against the commitments that we put together in the document you can see on the left there. Making Avon Fire and Rescue a better place to work. There are over 50 actions in there that we committed to do, to make the Service a better place to work. In order to help us deliver these commitments, we invited all staff to become a 'Cultural Advocate', to actually play an active part in helping to, you know, take our cultural journey further. So, we held a number of workshops with them, to sort of get to know each other and one of the first things we did was to sort of agree what it meant to be a Cultural Advocate. And you probably can't see what's on the screen (TC 00:20:00), I'm afraid. It's a little bit too small. But essentially, it was a commitment that said, 'As a cultural advocate, I'm committing to playing an active role. I'm going to be a positive role model.' And things like that.
'We will be inclusive and make sure that people have a voice and that they're involved and essentially, that we're upholding values with everything that we're doing.' So, one of the first things we did, we recognised that we had those six values and essentially, it's six words. And many people were saying to us, 'Well, what do those six words actually mean?' It's quite subjective, it meant different things to different people. I must admit, in the first year of having those six values, we didn't really see much change in terms of how people were feeling and how people were behaving essentially. So, what we decided to do was to bring in a Values and Behaviour Framework that essentially brings those six values to life and says, 'What does good look like and what does unacceptable behaviour look like?' So, that Framework was launched a year ago this month. That's been in place for a while. Of course, COVID19 has happened, so our progress has slowed somewhat over this year. But what we have managed to do is embed this Framework into three of our core processes, including recognition, recruitment and we're just about to embark on embedding it into our staff appraisal system. So, to help launch this Framework, back in October last year we produced a short video which helped to bring the values to life.

We've come to the end of our presentation there, but I'm happy to take any questions.

Cllr Rebecca Knox, Dorset and Wiltshire FRA:  Right. Thank you very much indeed for that. I think Avon came to the Southwest. I might've seen that video before. It still makes a real move and it's very provocative. Thank you very much for sharing it at this audience. So, lots to think about there. Some humour and ways of actually getting messages across. How does it actually embed change and behaviour? So, questions to Anna and Zoe, please, if anyone wants to, to kick off. Lots of challenges one could put to them, there.

Rachael Aldridge, LGA:  Did we want to save the questions for the Q&A after the presentation and hear from Serena, or do the presentations in between?

Cllr Rebecca Knox, Dorset and Wiltshire FRA:  We can do the next presentation, if that would help. Yes? Okay. We'll go onto the next presentation, then and put all the questions together. So, the next presentation we have is Serena. Serena, are you ready for that? I hope we haven't brought you on without fair warning.

Serena Simon, Westminster City Council:  Yes.

Cllr Rebecca Knox, Dorset and Wiltshire FRA:  Okay, brilliant. Alright then.

Serena Simon, Westminster City Council:  Good afternoon. Brilliant.
Okay. So, let me just get my screen up and I'll just talk to, so, thank you very much, firstly to Rachael, for inviting me. I'm really privileged to be addressing a different group than I would normally work in, as part of local government. So, my name's Serena.

Rachael Aldridge, LGA:  Sorry, Serena, to interrupt, but we can only still see 'Serena'. We don't actually see you. It's just the screen with your name.

Serena Simon, Westminster City Council:  Okay. Okay. I think I can-, I'm gonna take this off of my-, that was the-, let me just get the presentation-, I'll get the presentation up separately. Okay. Able to see me now?

Rachael Aldridge, LGA:  Yes.

Serena Simon, Westminster City Council:  Brilliant. Sorry. Let's just position that. Okay. Brilliant. Then, I shall just use the screen. So, yes, hello and thank you. Thank you very much for welcoming me along today. It was really interesting to hear from colleagues from Avon and Somerset and it's really, very similar in terms of the work around staff networks and some of the challenges that colleagues spoke about, there. I can definitely recognise them. So, really to kind of speak about and sorry, I'm from Westminster City Council. And I'm the programme director for well, the most complex and ambitious programme of regeneration that Westminster's ever undertaken, as well as, I'm the privileged chair of the Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic Staff Network. So, in Westminster we have five staff networks currently. So, we have the Women's Network, the BAME, LGBT Plus, the Able Network and a Family Loop Network that really looks to advocate on behalf of staff with caring responsibilities. So, all of these networks are very young. So, the Women's Network has been in operation for a good number of years, but the BAME Network in particular is, this month, two years old. So, we're and then all the other networks have kind of kind of developed since then. So, we were really faced, I just wanted to take you briefly through the, the journey that Westminster City Council has undertaken in recent years, particularly over the last two and a half years, around our journey to a more inclusive Westminster.
So, really, we were faced with, one, a lack of ethnic diversity in our senior leadership team and also this was an issue in terms of gender and not seeing that many women in our senior leadership. We also had published, or had information around, our pay gap. Definitely for gender, but then also we took the decision to publicise our ethnicity pay gap data. And we were also hearing from the organisation that recruitment, particularly at higher levels, so management levels and above, there was a lot of feedback from the organisation, from the workforce, that those recruitment processes didn't feel fair and people weren't being successful, but equally felt that the processes weren't transparent. Quite a lot of colleagues would speak about people just appearing at a desk on a Monday morning and then being told that you know they'd been recruited in. So, these were the kinds of factor I suppose the context, around that period of time before we decided to launch the BAME Network. And one of the first things we did and as I mentioned, this month is our second anniversary, during the month of October 2018, we held a workshop which was entitled 'A Search for Solutions', looking at the issues around ethnic diversity in our senior leadership. And we invited our Chief Executive (TC 00:30:00), Stuart Love along and members of the executive team, as well as the workforce. And it was really really quite interesting in Westminster, before.
Because there was a lot of conversations, but these conversations were kind of you know, these conversations would only happen between colleagues who had shared experiences. And so, whilst the temperature check in the organisation at a level was saying that, 'Oh, there's so much wrong,' that information wasn't really escalating up beyond those kinds of smaller groups. So, this was the first time that we really brought this to fore. Okay. So, what did we do? So, we had that workshop. It was really quite successfully attended, and we developed some action plans out of that. What it was really important for me to do and recognise and along with some volunteers who decided to kind of jump on board in terms of the leadership and now we have 21 Steering Group members. So, the Steering Group is the kind of decision making body for the Network. And we have, I just did a quick count before I came on. So, we've got 365 members of the BAME Staff Network. And whilst I must say, in the first year, probably year and a half, the number or the members were mainly from staff who identified themselves as black, Asian or minority ethnic. That was the dominant kind of composition. But particularly, and I'll speak more about this, but we have seen participation widen considerably and particularly over the last eight months, which is brilliant.
So, what we did is we created some terms of reference. We wanted to make sure that, not only were we providing an opportunity for staff, for space to speak, or 'time to talk', as we, kind of call some of those sessions and a safe place where people could feel like they could, kind of offload and speak you know and speak really, you know from the heart. But we also wanted to ensure that what were we going to do with that? You know as also staff members who were volunteering on this. Like, what part did we have to play in the resolution of some of those issues? So, we wanted to be clear about our terms of reference, so we created that. And also, then, for the first year, and then every subsequent year since, we have a programme plan which is aligned not only with what the Network is asking us to prioritise, but also with the corporate objectives around you know creating that more inclusive Westminster. We divided the work plan into subgroups and then we have Sub-Group Leads, who are part of the Steering Group and they lead those groups and then feedback at a monthly meeting that we have for the Steering Group. I must say, on our Steering Group now we have representation from the executive team. So, they often come along to the sessions, which is you know of course brilliant. As well as our executive sponsor and other managers from time to time.
We have and I've mentioned about these Time to Talk sessions and we actually have this facilitated by a systemic therapist, who happens to work for my team in the regeneration programme, so we also recognised and I think some of the speakers before me mentioned this about mental wellbeing and particularly over the last, you know, eight months or so. Since the impact of COVID and the racial disparities actually around that impact. As well as, for staff members, being, sorry. Being, you know, kind of forced into a different way of working and lots of people feeling quite isolated working from home on a much more rigorous basis than they had done previously. So, I spoke about, you know, the widening of participation and particularly, I've noticed that the, the world events that have happened, both fromkind of, COVID from lockdown from everybody being in lockdown, but also the, and I mentioned this, the disproportionate impact of COVID on actually black and Asian communities. And we started a lot of work as a network around that, both internally and externally. But also, the George Floyd murder in the US. And the resurgence of Black Lives Matter movement. Particularly in the UK. Now, that, those circumstances converged to enable a much deeper, beyond the surface conversation between groups of staff that would never have had those conversations. And if I can say, and I'm getting on to start speaking about the benefits of staff networks, but that has been a crucial benefit.
You knowkind of enabling those conversations to happen where people don't you know, speaking about race is a very challenging subject and we've found that. It's very uncomfortable for colleagues to do it. But when, the more colleagues do it the less uncomfortable it becomes. So, that has been a major benefit. I spoke about escalation of issues. And so, we have a part to play in terms of we're able to take a temperature check of the organisation and what's happening and you know, in certain circumstances particularly around recruitment, there was a need for us tokind of collate information and to be speaking and liaising with our colleagues who lead on aspects of that for the organisation in a move to improve. And last year, was it last year? I forget the year that we're in, now. I think 2019. Yes, April 2019. We were able to stand up beside our executive team and particularly our Chief Executive and we launched three initiatives really to support reducing that pay gap. One was positive action in terms of our recruitment. So, we specified that, at our Band Four level and above which is middle management and above, that every-,

Cllr Rebecca Knox, Dorset and Wiltshire FRA:  Serena, you've got about two minutes, I'm afraid.

Serena Simon, Westminster City Council:  Okay.

Cllr Rebecca Knox, Dorset and Wiltshire FRA:  Okay.

Serena Simon, Westminster City Council:  Okay, okay. Alright, I'm just going, let me just jump to benefits. So, benefits. And we really see the Network as a corporate resource. We don't sit separately. I think the main point of this is that we've needed to be very collaborative and work with the organisation. We've enabled greater understanding of workforce issues. We've seen an enhanced delivery of community services. And this month, we have joined forces with our executive team to collaborate on our Black History Month events and activities. And just in the first week, we've seen over 500 staff members attend. So, it's really been about bringing the workforce together with, you know kind of corporate Westminster and to make sure that there's better understanding across the board and therefore, you know are striving to become more inclusive. We're on a good journey. So, perhaps I'll just leave it there and then, happy to take questions.

Cllr Rebecca Knox, Dorset and Wiltshire FRA:  Thank you very much, Serena. I think that was really interesting and that's taken us into a sort of lovely area that we can discuss alongside the presentations that we had from Anna and Zoe. And if you do have your slides, I'm sure everyone would love to see them.

Serena Simon, Westminster City Council:  Yeah.

Cllr Rebecca Knox, Dorset and Wiltshire FRA:  Don't worry-,

Serena Simon, Westminster City Council:  I'll get them sent over.

Cllr Rebecca Knox, Dorset and Wiltshire FRA:  Zoom, Zoom is a challenge, as we all know. Right. To kick it off, there was actually quite an interesting question which Lesley Clarke put in the chat line. Lesley, are you on here and might like to, to say what you wrote, or shall I read it out?

Cllr Lesley Clarke, Buckinghamshire FRA:  I am here, it's just I have awful problems with IT. Microsoft Word seems to want to (mw 39.01) and I keep on getting messages.

Cllr Rebecca Knox, Dorset and Wiltshire FRA:  Okay, well, your question looked really good. Do you want to read that out for us?

Cllr Lesley Clarke, Buckinghamshire FRA:  Yes. Let me just find it. The thing that I would like to know is, by implementing the values in the Avon Fire and Rescue Service, how did this assist with the feeling of those in the Service of being overstretched? How did you get over that issue in particular?

Zoe Baker-Powell, Avon FRS:  It's a really good question and if I'm honest, I would say that we're not there yet. Culture change takes time, unfortunately. But I think the piece of work that we're about to embark on, this transformation programme, which is about looking at policies and processes and our IT systems, I think that's actually where the real value will come. (TC 00:40:00) And people will actually start to feel the benefit of you know reduced workloads, less admin, less bureaucracy and things like that. And managers start to feel like they have some autonomy to make decisions. So, yes, we're still very much on a journey. It's only couple of years.

Cllr Lesley Clarke, Buckinghamshire FRA:  So, it's very much, yes, it's embedding, that's what you're more or less saying, isn't it?

Zoe Baker-Powell, Avon FRS:  Yeah.

Cllr Lesley Clarke, Buckinghamshire FRA:  Thank you.

Zoe Baker-Powell, Avon FRS:  We felt very strongly that this framework was almost the foundation work that we needed to do, you know? To sort of put that out there.

Cllr Lesley Clarke, Buckinghamshire FRA:  Put the building blocks in.

Zoe Baker-Powell, Avon FRS:  Absolutely. Yes. And I think, over the next two to three years, we will really start to see people starting to feel better.

Cllr Lesley Clarke, Buckinghamshire FRA:  Yes. Brilliant. Thank you.

Cllr Rebecca Knox, Dorset and Wiltshire FRA:  Thank you very much, Lesley. There's another question in the chat box, from Tina. But I'm just going throw one in, if I might, whilst Tina gets unmuted. Oh, no, she is there. Tina is unmuted. Tina, do you want to put your question to the audience?

Cllr Tina McKenzie-Boyle, Royal Berkshire FRA:  Sorry. It's Tina McKenzie-Boyle here, from Royal Berkshire Fire and Rescue Authority. Have you worked in partnership with another authority, who have made good progress in this area and has helped you with your transformation?

Zoe Baker-Powell, Avon FRS:  Yes. One of the first things we did when we had the statutory inspection was to, to see if there's anybody else who had been through something similar. And Essex Fire and Rescue were, very kindly provided us with a multitude of information, because they'd been through something quite similar in recent years. And I think one of the things that they, that they stressed and which we took on board, was that this was very much you know this wasn't a quick fix. This was something that would take a lot of time and effort to put into. So, whilst we took lessons from them, I wouldn't say that we collaborated with them in any way. But what we have done since is we've had a number of services come to us, because I think Avon's journey has been quite public. And I think our journey is similar to many other people's journeys, but perhaps theirs hasn't been as public as ours. So, I think people have been watching, watching us and coming to us. And a number of other fire and rescue services have been asking for, for information. And in fact, I've had a message privately just on this call. You know, can someone get in touch to, to learn from us. So, does that answer your question?

Cllr Tina McKenzie-Boyle, Royal Berkshire FRA:  It certainly does. That's absolutely, it makes absolute sense because you can't work in isolation. It's not (mw 42.47), is it?

Cllr Rebecca Knox, Dorset and Wiltshire FRA:  Brilliant. No, it's all about learning from others, isn't it?

Zoe Baker-Powell, Avon FRS:  It is, yes. Don't reinvent the wheel.

Cllr Tina McKenzie-Boyle, Royal Berkshire FRA:  Thank you, Zoe. Good to talk to you.

Cllr Rebecca Knox, Dorset and Wiltshire FRA:  Thank you, Tina. Andy Crump from Warwickshire.

Cllr Andy Crump, Warwickshire FRA:  Yeah, sunny Warwickshire.

Cllr Rebecca Knox, Dorset and Wiltshire FRA:  Good one in the chat, there.

Cllr Andy Crump, Warwickshire FRA:  Yeah, sunny Warwickshire calling. A bit like the Eurovision Song Contest, isn't it? With all of these, Zoom. I'm trying to be on mute. Yeah. It's just a brief question for Serena. And great presentation. Lots doing and I'm sorry she had to finish quite early. It's just one, if Serena had one message to put out in say, a thirty second TV interview what would she concentrate on?

Serena Simon, Westminster City Council:  So, Andy, I, I don't know if you've ever spoken to any of my colleagues but trying to get Serena into 30 seconds is almost like bringing me out in a, that's really stressful. So, but what I would say and perhaps just a combination of a few things. So, one you know we can change culture, but it definitely takes one conversation at a time. This is not a moment; it is a movement. And you know, what we've had to say to our colleagues is, 'Turn up imperfectly, rather than not turning up at all.' Because, sometimes, we can be quite you know worried about saying the wrong thing, you know? You know, what is it that we're doing, are we going to cause offence? And we find that, sometimes, you know, colleagues can be crippled. Well actually through conversations, we've learnt to start to overcome some of that. And we've been actually comfortable with being uncomfortable. So, hopefully that was kind of like 30 seconds. I'll work on it, though Andy. I'll work on it.

Cllr Andy Crump, Warwickshire FRA:  No, that was great. And I'm sure all the politicians on this call would suffer the same anxiety of trying to talk in less than 30 seconds. 30 minutes, maybe, but 30 seconds, no. Thank you for that.

Serena Simon, Westminster City Council:  Okay, thank you.

Cllr Rebecca Knox, Dorset and Wiltshire FRA:  Brilliant. Thank you, Andy. And thanks, Serena. There is a question from an iPhone. We can't see who you are and there are a couple of iPhones.

Rachael Aldridge, LGA:  It's Councillor, Councillor Paton.

Cllr Julie Patten, Derbyshire FRA:  Hi. I've just put it on. Unfortunately, I'm on my phone because we're not allowed to use Zoom on any of our equipment. So, I'm on my iPhone, which is a bit of a pain. It's a question for Serena. The one thing I wrote down that you said in your presentation was about looking at ethnic diversity in senior leadership and that's something that we're trying to work on at Derbyshire Fire and Rescue. So, I'm just wondering what you've done to overcome, to actually improve this. Or are you still working on it?

Serena Simon, Westminster City Council:  Yeah, thank you very much for the question. Absolutely still working on it. This is in fact you know last year we saw our ethnicity pay gap reduce slightly. And this year, we've taken the decision to publish our figures a bit earlier than we need to. So, we've just, in fact, just yesterday hot off the press. Now, our pay gap has gone back up again to where it was you know the first year. So, it's definitely a continued piece of work. But we have implemented as I said, three initiatives. So, positive action. So, any recruitment of middle management and above has to have a diverse shortlist. We have to have diverse panels. So, before people were turning up to interviews not seeing anyone who looked like them on the panel. And we know there's, you know kind of qualitative and psychological evidence that says that actually people may not feel able to bring themselves. We also launched an initiative called 'reverse mentoring' and I campaigned for a long while because I wasn't happy with the name. For me, it's still kind of, did something about the power dynamic. To use the word 'reverse'. Anyway, it's now called 'inclusive mentoring' and that started so many useful green, you know kind of green shoots. And colleagues feeling better able to understand the different experiences that colleagues who look different to them had in the organisation. So, you know I would say it's definitely ongoing and as we saw with the pay gap going up again. But we've undertaken well, we've looked at some more radical actions that we're going be taking over the next year or so. And yeah, it's just to continue you know continued work really.

Cllr Julie Patten, Derbyshire FRA:  Okay. Thanks, Serena.

Serena Simon, Westminster City Council:  That's alright.

Cllr Rebecca Knox, Dorset and Wiltshire FRA:  And Serena there's a question coming up another one for you from Kevin Pardy. Is Kevin there?

Kevin Pardy:  Thank you very much. Hi, Serena. I'm Kevin Pardy from Shropshire. I'm a former firefighter and I'm now on the Fire Authority in Shropshire. From the Council. I've left the Fire Service nine years. Twelve years ago, I was seconded as a firefighter into equality and diversity. And it had been going on for some time, a couple of years, before that, at least. There had been a department. At least that, probably more. But what, and they were quite naïve to be honest at the start. But what I don't understand is that the whole country looks to Westminster for guidance as in Parliament, yet it seems that this what you're talking about is the E&D initiative is quite new. And I can't understand why such a big city is so far behind sort of leafy Shropshire.

Serena Simon, Westminster City Council:  Yeah. Do you know what I think that's a really good point? Recently, so in May actually I launched, with the support of the Network, some work in the pan London council space. Because we wanted to look at that disproportionate impact of COVID on black and Asian communities. And I realised, actually all of London would be facing the same thing, so let's just come together and collaborate. And what I have seen and in fact I've been quite surprised, that across London and some of the initiatives, so, sort of like diverse panels have been in place in a lot of areas for a long time. But Kevin, what I've actually seen is that some of the stuff that we are now speaking about seems to be quite, not groundbreaking because I don't want to suggest like that but actually for some London councils they are learning you know, they are learning from us. So, you know, and perhaps we need to ditch our feelings about kind of 'the great Westminster' and maybe, you know kind of adopt humility as an approach (TC 00:50:00) and really come and learn from, you know, authorities outside of London. So, absolutely take your point. And I must say, in terms of staff networks, as I said, the Women's Network had been running for a longer time. There had been a BAME Network before, but it had kind of fallen by the wayside. And there is something about the leadership around this, of the organisation. And in the last two and a half years our new Chief Executive, Stuart Love has absolutely spearheaded this. And I think all of this work, without an executive level sponsor will not you know, will not have as great an impact as having one. So, I think I could probably put it down to that actually. In terms of where we are as an organization now.

Kevin Pardy:  Thank you.

Cllr Rebecca Knox, Dorset and Wiltshire FRA:  Thank you, Serena. There's another one for Serena. Councillor Angela Wenham.

Cllr Angela Wenham:  Hello, Serena.

Cllr Rebecca Knox, Dorset and Wiltshire FRA:  We can't hear you.

Cllr Angela Wenham:  Hi, Serena. Can you hear me now?

Serena Simon, Westminster City Council:  Yes, I can hear you. Hi.

Cllr Angela Wenham:  What was it like at Westminster before the BAME Network set up? And you said it's two years old this month. What was the reason you set it up in October? Can you give me a link? Is it something to do with Black History Month?

Serena Simon, Westminster City Council:  Yeah. Thank you very much, Councillor. So, what I would say is I've been at Westminster for nine years. And actually, after the first two years I'd been trying to leave. Because, as a black woman I couldn't see much in terms of you know kind of career progression. I was very ambitious, wanting to move forward in my career but didn't actually see anyone not in any significant numbers, who looked like me in senior leadership. So that was my kind of personal experience, but I also am a trade unionist and I went on a secondment into Unison for, probably about two years. So, I was able to lead a lot of this work from that perspective. And then came back into the organisation and kind of, different levels of management. How was the organisation before? I would say that we had no discussions about race, in any kind, definitely not in any corporate context. So, these conversations were relegated to small groups. You know, maybe within directorates or services. So, it was really, probably a combination of reasons. One, when our new Chief Exec started, he stood up in a staff network and said he was ashamed about the lack of ethnic diversity in our senior leadership and he needed to address it. So, that was a good catalyst. I then went and met with him. He wanted to come and address the staff and I urged him for caution until he had something robust to, you know to say and maybe we could do that collaboratively. So, but it was also about, actually during Black History Month wanting, while there was a bit of a spotlight on you know, the community that we wanted to utilise that time. So, yeah, I think it was probably a two-prong approach and in terms of why we decided at that time to launch.

Cllr Rebecca Knox, Dorset and Wiltshire FRA:  Lovely. I can't see any more questions in the chat bar and actually, we've managed to catch up on a bit of time. We're not going take a break. So, I'm going to go straight into the action/learning session, where we'll continue the discussion about Serena, Anna and Zoe's presentations, but they'll be more focussed. And the facilitators of each of the breakout rooms will be able to talk members through what we're going to be exploring. But it's really about what, what does success look like and how can you actually measure it and what's the outcome, if it's achieved? But particularly, really particularly for us of course is what is our role as members? What is the role that we can perform to assist those working within the organisation?

Becca Singh:  I'm sorry, those of you who know me, we've gone a little bit off piste in that we kind of talked about the whole issue of staff networks and the role of members all as one, rather than each individual question. But apologies for that, Rachael. But one of the key issues with all of this was getting the senior level buy-in. So, the person talking wasn't talking about their own particular Chief Exec or senior leadership but just as a concept in organisations, if you haven't got senior level buy-in, whether that's members but particularly, sort of Chief Exec's or SLT and the equivalent, or if that's where the problem is, it's hard to get really good buy-in lower, lower down the organisation. And staff are not going be feeling empowered or valued and supported. So, it's making sure that you do have that senior buy-in. The role of elected members. Well, part of that is making sure that the Fire Authority is informed about what's happening. One of the advantages with COVID is you can do things quickly by electronic methods, but also taking the time to make sure, for instance, the Chair of the Authority is still meeting and finding out what's going on with the Chief and updating all the rest of the Authority members. But similar to what's been said, it's that there's a difference between what staff can do and what Authority members can do because staff, it's their job, it's their role, they are there, they have the time, it's part of what we, we as members expect from them. The values and behaviours which relate to equality, diversity and inclusion and how you empower staff networks. And so, it's making sure that you do have that split. But for members, and it's quite useful to have this. Members on the Fire Authority can be champions for equality or champions for a particular network, rather than actually running it or being part of it enabling that to happen and helping senior staff to make sure that they are, those, the messages are heard from staff across the organisation.

Cllr Rebecca Knox, Dorset and Wiltshire FRA:  Lovely, thank you. Four. Jess. Was that Jess?

Jess Norman, LGA:  Thanks Rebecca, yes. I'll come in there. So, I'm not going attribute to specific people because my notes weren't that exact, I'm afraid. What I've done is pulled out some of the bits where we sort of speak to how what success really looks like. So, there's quite a lot of conversation about intersectionality. I know some people don't like that specific word, but the sort of concept of making sure that we're not addressing these things in silos. So, a place that really integrates all of this work and makes sure that they're not viewed in silos and really ensures that intersectionality is part of the approach. That's what 'good' should really look like. I think that's a main thing that I pulled out in terms of the conversation around success. And a particular point about that is not excluding any part of the workforce. So, in focussing on specific groups you mustn't forget other parts of the workforce who then might find that a real challenge, because you're there to support everyone. There's a thing about having an emphasis about high quality engagement. So, not just counting numbers of people you've got engaged, but making sure that that engagement is really high quality and you're getting what you need from it. So, making sure it's not sort of just taking these, but really listening to it and working hard at that and making it work. Something around making sure you work on the concept of allies. And again, not just focussing on those specific groups. Because it'll empower all the workforce to be involved. And making sure that you learn from successes in other places. So, obviously, this network is one of the places where we're going try and bring you those good, good examples that are out there and of course, we're always wanting to hear from you about good things you know are going on in (mw 58.48) services. In terms of how members can support that, there was a very clear sort of conversation around being overt about your support of events that are around inclusion and making sure that diversity issues are prioritised in terms of air time, FRA meetings, but also in terms of financial support. It's very easy to eliminate things from your budget that don't seem like they have a direct connection to raising the quality of your service badge. It's really important to prioritise them if you can. And then, there was the final point around leading. In terms of behaviour and language and attitudes towards these issues. Making sure that in the way that you're engaging with them, it's really positive, as well. I think that was most of our conversation. Again, if any of my group would like to chime in, perfectly happy for you to do that on the chat.

Cllr Rebecca Knox, Dorset and Wiltshire FRA:  Lovely, thanks Jess. Five? Yeah.

Gill Elliot, LGA:  I think that's, that's me. Okay. So, my group, we've talked quite a lot about success and what it might mean to the organisation. I think there was a feeling that (TC 01:00:00) success would be if everybody's onboard. If you can bring all staff onboard, from all the different types and groups of staff, firefighters, control staff, etc. Also, whether knowing what the issues are really whether they're positive or negative. So that, when you do have an inspection, the two bits of information kind of marry up so you know what your staff feel. And it'll be the same as the inspectorate finds and if the inspectorate is finding something different, then in a way, you've not been successful. Having staff know that they can come forward and having a two-way conversation. And also, one of our group said that if members are actually receiving information from staff so directly, whether that's complimentary or not was a kind of measure of how communications were operating in the organisation. We spoke quite a lot about whether particularly, I think operational staff, but it might apply to other staff as well, firefighters can speak openly with managers in the room. And whether that's possible. So, there was a feeling that there needed to be opportunities for firefighters and maybe other groups of staff to speak without managers. But also, have opportunities to speak with managers in the room because I think it sounds like there might be a bit of a disconnect between what would be said in those two environments. We felt that measuring success was not easy, but we talked about staff surveys and obviously, I think we also talked about workforce profiling and data. I think that goes back to the staff surveys and actually disaggregating information from staff surveys. So, using data and analysis to measure success. We started to run out of time actually at that point, about how members can (mw 01.02.13) staff. So, that might be something we can talk about in the last few minutes of this. But there was a view that members need to get out more and meet staff and hear their views. And then, we started talking about how that can be done. So, maybe, some of the delegates here might have some ideas about how members can get out and meet staff and hear their views. So, that's it.

Cllr Rebecca Knox, Dorset and Wiltshire FRA:  Lovely. Thank you. And six? Who was six?

Rachael Aldridge, LGA:  I think that leaves me. Is that right, Jordanne? I think that's me. Yeah. So, during our chat, we spoke about the sustainability of staff networks, I guess as sort of a proxy for the success. So, we talked a lot about similar to what some of the other groups have mentioned about senior or executive engagement but that it's the way in which that comes through to the particular network that it can't be something that is very top-down implemented, or forced on staff. That it really needs to have much more of a sort of grassroots development. And that will really ensure that they're valued, and staff really see how they can try and contribute. So, it is a two-way street in that respect. So, you need to have you know executive champions, but also, you really need to have staff you know seeing the ways in which they can be valued and contribute to the organisation. And actually, see some positive outcomes that come from that. And in that way, that then leads it to be sustainable. We did also, similar to Becca's group we kind of talked about the first and second question a little bit together. We spoke about, in terms of the sustainability of a staff network we were lucky to have Zoe and Anna both in our breakout room and they mentioned that it's really critical to get some quick wins on the board early. So that we can really get staff, you know maintain that staff involvement and sustain it. With regard to the second question, in terms of members' involvement, in particular, Paul Kertin (ph 01.04.37) mentioned that really getting out and speaking and engaging with, going from station to station, was really, really critical. You know, from a members' perspective to really maintain those connections and that engagement. And then we sort of ran out of time from there. So, we'll be really looking forward to hearing the discussion on that particular question, part of the question.

Cllr Rebecca Knox, Dorset and Wiltshire FRA:  Brilliant. Thanks, Rachael. Charles, I haven't forgotten you've got a part two. Keep it quick so that we can, we can have a final discussion. Thank you.

Charles Loft, LGA:  Thanks. Yes. So, part two was about members' role, there was talk of promoting the good work through social media, the absolute importance of effective scrutiny, but the main thing was the need for members to get out to fire stations, meet the staff and then also feed that back in terms of inclusion and diversity forums and similar groups. So, I think getting out and hearing direct from the staff was a key take away, I think.

Cllr Rebecca Knox, Dorset and Wiltshire FRA:  Lovely. Thank you. Right there are a few things in the chat room, but if you want to raise an issue just put up, type RTS. Anyone want to add anything? I'll just add I think there's a little bit of an issue about members going out on station. I've heard, I mean I have in my authority, I have a buddy system with stations. So, everyone is allocated a certain number of stations they can go and visit and talk to member staff about, but in some cases this is not viewed as good practice so because you can get staff potentially taking advantage of having a member on station and getting a member involved in operational issues. So, there are pros and cons. Has anyone experienced anything to be on the negative of having members out meeting staff on stations?

Cllr Gary Haley, Tyne and Wear FRA:  I can answer that, yeah. So, I'm chair of the HR at Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue. We have exactly that system, where we have each member linked to a fire station. I have two on my patch. One's a retained (ph 01.07.10) station, one a whole time. I'd say that of the negative was during a meeting with a, a watch. Well, it was actually more than one watch at my link station was, was being the, the one guy on one side table effectively trying, trying to answer questions and explain an IRMP proposal centered around budget changes and so on and the implications for the workforce on that. I'm just answering questions. I mean I'm able to do it. I'm confident enough to do that but, basically, you're on your own and you've maybe a dozen or more firefighters who are asking questions and challenging questions, as well, quite rightly. But, I, on the other hand the positive with that is actually hearing the view from the coalface, if you like and from the workforce, I think, I felt was really helpful for me to understand the point of view of firefighters working in stations and being able to answer questions. And then, in some cases, in many cases, reassuring them actually about the Fire Authority and the members understanding of the organisation. One of the great questions they asked was do, do Fire Authority members in Tyne and Wear think that we're an expensive service? You know, so that there are some really challenging questions and I found was mainly positive. The only negative side to it was effectively you're on your own, unless you're preparing to sort of take a lot of other fire, a lot of other members along with you as backup. But, really, we should be working together, and we should be open and honest and be able to have those challenging conversations in the interests of improving the organisation. So, I'd say it's very positive on the whole.

Cllr Rebecca Knox, Dorset and Wiltshire FRA:  Yeah, and there's a lot for members to manage themselves isn't there, not yet drawn in. But Nick, you might have an alternative view?

Cllr Nick Chard, Kent and Medway FRA:  Yeah, I do have an alternative view and I'm sorry to be argumentative. But I just feel that a lot of the discussion on fire stations is operational and if they want to talk about shift or, the stuff about the fire station, all the rest of its members shouldn't get drawn in. And particularly if they're on their own and then they give the commitment to doing something which is at variance to what the officers have either agreed to do or plan to do. And I think it can be incredibly divisive. I don't have a problem if members and officers go together and as you would expect in any council that the members answer the political questions and the officers answer the technical and operational questions. But, just the same with the council if you get members trying to answer operational and even worse, officers answering political questions it can lead to real tension. And I think it's got to be really well managed and it's something, frankly I don't encourage my colleagues in my service, or my authority to just rock up at fire stations because that's not helpful.

Cllr Rebecca Knox, Dorset and Wiltshire FRA:  No, thank you. It's good to hear other views and wise advice on the operational issues particularly. Tina.

Cllr Tina McKenzie-Boyle, Royal Berkshire FRA:  Hi. Nick, thank you for that. I have to say some of which I agree and some of which I fully don't, because we have in the Royal Berkshire authority,

Cllr Rebecca Knox, Dorset and Wiltshire FRA:  Not very clear, Tina.

Cllr Tina McKenzie-Boyle, Royal Berkshire FRA:  (inaudible 01.10.46) Am I better, is that better now? Can you hear me now? Is that better?

Cllr Rebecca Knox, Dorset and Wiltshire FRA:  I think so.

Cllr Tina McKenzie-Boyle, Royal Berkshire FRA:  Okay, let's try again. Trying to say Nick, I understand some of which I understand and say, 'Yes, I agree.' However, we have in The Royal Berkshire authority a member's development. And one of the parts for development is authority members go out and meet the firefighters, go and meet the work groups. You can hear much more over coffee and a doughnut than otherwise. We steer clear of operations. That's not our remit. What our remit is, when we're looking at inclusivity, diversity and equality, is, 'Do you feel? How is your feeling?' And that's rather more than, 'What's your response time?' And you know, 'Should we be doing this?' And we're not getting that from the chief. It's the looking at their wellbeing and, is everybody on the watch still well? And is one of them not 100% fit? That's what we should be looking at, not operations. That's really not within our remit. But what is there is to ensure that our firefighters have the support from the authority and if they know that we can take that to the management committee or to the CBI, or that we, they know that we will be confidential, anonymise anything that they have said. So, I agree with some of Nick, but I feel sure that I, you would feel quite confident and a bit more comfortable with the way we look at going to see our firefighters.

Cllr Rebecca Knox, Dorset and Wiltshire FRA:  Okay. Thank, thank you to Tina. Next one is Grace. Jan. Grace, sorry. Jan Grace?

Jan Grace, Merseyside FRA:  It's fine. Hiya. Yeah, we're very fortunate at Merseyside Fire and Rescue. We have organised visits to fire stations with a group of us. We also meet new recruits when they're training and at both events we sit down at lunchtime, have sandwiches and tea and coffee together. And the whole point is so they know our faces. They know who we are when, we're not, you know, but that there's a name to the face and we're approachable. And I must say I've never been approached about anything like IRMP. The only thing I can recall being asked about was to escalate a complaint about broken gym equipment. But it's actually a good way to meet people. That we're also encouraged to go to things like award ceremonies as well as the Prince's Trust, so we meet the firefighters, their families. And there's always a sort of a get together bit at the end as Tina was saying, over tea and cake, which is, just pleasant, plus it makes us available to them, or more available I feel. So, I see it as very positive, but then we don't go out on our own to stations. Thanks.

Cllr Rebecca Knox, Dorset and Wiltshire FRA:  Thank you. AndI think everyone has sort of interpreted the going out in a different sort of way and I'm sure the threads of that are being picked up, particularly in relation to actually seeing the visibility of our staff and how they engage with the colleagues and us and officers. Now, there's a sort of other golden thread going through here from, picking up on all the rooms. That was that, that this is really important and one of the things that I said in our room was we all, get it and that's why we're on this network. But are our colleagues getting it? And how, as leaders are, we actually helping develop our members? And I've heard that there are some number of developments programmes of course. But it's continuous. It's not just two hours at the beginning when they join an authority. There's really embedding behaviour into all of those councillors who we have, don't necessarily have a choice about who are on our authorities. So, is anyone finding that a challenge and is there anything that you think that the LGA could assist with?

Cllr Tina McKenzie-Boyle, Royal Berkshire FRA:  Rebecca, I've got my hand up. Do you mind? Instead of putting a chat in.

Cllr Rebecca Knox, Dorset and Wiltshire FRA:  Who's got their hand up? I've got Nick with a hand up and who else? I've got, oh, Tina again. Is there anyone who hasn't spoken? I'll go to Nick and then I'll go back to Tina.

Cllr Nick Chard, Kent and Medway FRA:  Sorry to, to hog, but the, the quality of members I think is really important and I think that when the chair or chairman of the authority needs to have a good working relationship with the authorities, with the councils who send members. And we do need to make sure that, if we get the wrong member sent, or in my view the wrong member, there's an exit strategy that we can use. And to be blunt, I've used that strategy where the language has not been appropriate, where the culture doesn't fit in with my authority. But they have a quiet word and they go and find another committee that is more tolerant, perhaps, of their view. And I think that we need to be quite tough, but we can only do that if we have a good working relationship with the leaders of councils who send members to us. But I'm certainly not frightened to get rid of people, or shall we say ease, ease them out of the authority when they're frankly going to make my life difficult, they're going to have a negative effect on my service and I don't need them.

Cllr Rebecca Knox, Dorset and Wiltshire FRA:  Thank you, Nick. Tina?

Cllr Tina McKenzie-Boyle, Royal Berkshire FRA:  Nick, yeah absolutely. We don't need them, so what we've got in place is the one-to-one system.

Cllr Rebecca Knox, Dorset and Wiltshire FRA:  Tina, if you lean back a bit, we can hear you a bit better.

Cllr Tina McKenzie-Boyle, Royal Berkshire FRA:  Okay, yep. Sorry. We have a one-to-one system, so we have our (mw 01.17.20) system and we see the chair of the authority on a yearly basis and we update him with our score at skills, what courses that we've been on, what courses that fire services provided. So, I think that gives the mettle to the chairman of how we are, who we are. And those who are not making the grade and as Nick said, then possibly they should not be there.

Cllr Rebecca Knox, Dorset and Wiltshire FRA:  Okay, thank you Tina. You're very difficult to hear, I'm afraid but maybe write what you feel in the chat box. I think there's some really good points made there about the members and the quality but I'd just say sending them back to where they came from without a note of without just, I mean, I'll do it, but the council itself, it's, this isn't just about the fire and rescue service, is it? It's about the whole of our areas issues and so I think we can educate from where we stand, and I don't know of a system within councils that have a network like this. Maybe it does appear in the, with, at the LGA, but that'd be really helpful to know as well, so that we can actually encourage those who haven't succeeded on fire authorities to get some education somewhere else as well. Maybe that's what the LGA might be able to do. And Jess, maybe that's what you're doing in your new role. Thank you. We are coming to an end. I'm going to leave you with Rachael to sum up where, what, what happens next in terms of providing information and writing up of notes. But thanks very much. We're going to call it a day before four, so Rachael, do you want to just tell us what happens and thank you for, all very much for attending and for all of the staff arrangements.

Rachael Aldridge, LGA:  (inaudible 01.19.23) Thank you everyone for coming today. I know Friday afternoon's sometimes a bit of a tricky time for everyone, so I really appreciate your valuable contributions. And thank you again to Councillor Knox for stepping in as chair today. So, we will be publishing this presentation and the Q&A session, as well as the transcription on the web page and we will also be producing a note that will be sent round to all of the network based on the discussion today. If there's any outputs, we'll also be sending those. The next meeting will be on the 27th of November and we are still determining topics so we'll let members know what that will be closer to the time. But if anyone would like to suggest a topic or a theme of focus, or a speaker even for the next meeting then please do send that through to me. And if anyone has any comments about how the virtual meeting or something else generally, then also please do share that with me. That would be great.

Cllr Rebecca Knox, Dorset and Wiltshire FRA:  Thanks all.