As the local authority running the Kent Fire and Rescue Service, the Kent and Medway Fire and Rescue Authority (KMFRA) is responsible for the provision of fire and rescue services throughout the Kent County Council and Medway Council areas. The authority is made up of 25 elected councillors appointed by Kent County Council (21) and Medway Council (4) as well as the Kent Police and Crime Commissioner.
The authority normally meets three times a year. The authority meetings are normally held at KFRS Headquarters at The Godlands, Tovil, Maidstone and are open to the public.
Members' expenses and allowances
Scheme of members' allowances payable from 1 April 2022 to 31 March 2026
Scheme of members' allowances payable from 1 April 2022 to 31 March 2026
Basic allowance for 1 April 2022 to 31 March 2026: £1,568.88 per annum
Payable to all authority members to cover their time commitment on Kent and Medway Fire and Rescue Authority (KMFRA) duties and any miscellaneous expenses incurred in pursuit of KMFRA business such as office equipment, stationery, and day-to-day subsistence.
Members must serve 14 consecutive days on the authority before they become eligible to receive basic allowance. For those who meet that requirement the allowance will be backdated to the date of their appointment.
Special responsibility allowances (SRAs) for 1 April 2022 to 31 March 2026
|Post-holder||Percentage of chairman||Allowance per annum|
|Opposition group leader *||30%||£6,172.32|
* plus £300 for every Member above two.
- Members may only receive one SRA at any one time no matter how many offices within the KMFRA that Member may hold.
- Basic allowance and SRAs will be increased by the same percentage, and on the same dates, as the annual pay award to the authority’s ‘Green Book’ (non-uniformed) staff.
- Allowances may be rounded up or down where necessary for payment purposes.
Travel and subsistence allowances
Members’ private vehicles
Mileage is reimbursed at Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC) approved rates. At the date of approval of this scheme these rates were:
- Cars: 45p per mile for the first 10,000 miles per annum and 25p thereafter (with an additional 5p per mile for journeys where another Member is carried as a passenger on official business)
- Motorcycles: 24p per mile
- Bicycles: 20p per mile
Rail (standard class only), bus and taxi (where no other means of transport available) fares reimbursed as incurred, subject to tickets/ receipts being submitted wherever possible.
Eligible duties for claiming travel allowance
All official authority meetings, and all committee, panel, etc meetings as a member of that committee, panel, etc.
Other meetings or events relating to the business of the authority and authorised by the authority or called by the chief executive or clerk.
Briefing sessions in respect of official authority, committee and panel meetings attended by KMFRA office-holders in relation to the responsibilities for which they receive SRAs.
Meetings of all outside bodies to which the member is appointed by KMFRA, except where those bodies have their own expenses schemes.
No allowance payable for day-to-day subsistence because an element for this has been included in the basic allowance. However, members may claim direct reimbursement of actual expenditure incurred on non-routine subsistence, eg when away overnight on KMFRA business, subject to receipts being submitted.
- Allowances are only payable for the period during which a member holds office and members may be required to refund any over-payments of allowances made to them.
- Where a member of the authority is also a member of another authority, that member may not receive allowances from more than one authority in respect of the same duties.
- Any member may choose to forgo all or part of his or her entitlement to allowances by giving notice in writing to the clerk.
- Members’ private vehicle mileage is reimbursed at the HMRC approved rates and will change automatically from time to time as those rates change.
- Travel allowances must be claimed before the end of the financial year in which they become payable, or within six months, whichever is the shorter.
Officers to the authority
Queries relating to the work of the Kent Fire and Rescue Service should be addressed to the chief executive but for any queries relating to meetings of the authority or its committees please contact the clerk in the first instance.
Authority and committee meetings
Members of the public are welcome to attend authority and committee meetings. If you wish to attend any of our meetings, you may find the following notes helpful:
- You will only be able to observe the proceedings. You may also record or report on them. However, you will not be able to address the meeting or contribute to members’ discussion.
- If you wish to record or report on the proceedings of a meeting, please follow these guidelines.
- Occasionally it is necessary for an item at a meeting to be considered in private because, for example, it contains personal information about an individual. Private items are always dealt with at the end of the meeting and they are always clearly identified in the agenda (as ‘Exempt’ items). Members of the public will be asked to leave the meeting before consideration of the private items starts.
- Most authority and committee meetings are held in the Committee Room at KFRS Headquarters, The Godlands, Straw Mill Hill, Tovil, Maidstone. The Committee Room has a small public seating area but, where meetings include items which are expected to attract a lot of public interest, we provide additional public seating in a separate room with an audio feed from the Committee Room.
Authority meeting agenda packs, reports and minutes
Authority - 19 October 2023
Audit and governance committee - 27 September 2023
Authority - 29 June 2023
Audit and governance committee - 20 April 2023
Authority - 21 February 2023
Audit and governance committee - 28 November 2022
Authority - 13 October 2022
Audit and governance committee - 22 September 2022
Authority - 5 July 2022
Audit and governance committee - 28 April 2022
Hearings panel - 27 April 2022
Hearings panel - 18 February 2022 - postponed to due to inclement weather | Meeting moved to 21 February 2022
Authority - 18 February 2022 - postponed to due to inclement weather | Meeting moved to 21 February 2022
Audit and governance - 25 November 2021
Senior officer appointment and conditions - 14 October 2021
Authority - 14 October 2021
Authority - 22 July 2021
Hearings panel - 21 June 2021
Senior officer appointment and conditions - 27 April 2021
Authority - 27 April 2021
Senior officer appointment and conditions - 4 March 2021
Authority - 23 February 2021
Hearings panel - 23 February 2021
For Minutes, Agendas and Reports for earlier periods please contact the Clerk to the Authority by telephoning 01622 692121
Dates of future meetings
- Tuesday 20 February at 10.30am (Budget)
- Thursday 4 July at 10.30am
Audit and Governance Committee
- Tuesday 5 December at 10.30am
- Thursday 25 April at 10.30am
Our governance documents set out how the authority operates, how decisions are made, and the rules and procedures governing authority meetings and decision-taking. Our governance documents comprise the following:
The Kent Fire Services Order
This is the Order made by Parliament which first established the Authority. It contains the Constitution of the Authority and prescribes the arrangements for the Authority to take over responsibility for Kent Fire Brigade from Kent County Council on 1 April 1998.
Part VI of the Order (Combination Fire Services Fund) no longer applies. It was superseded by the Local Government Act 2003 which authorised Combined Fire Authorities (such as this Authority) to levy their own precepts (i.e. set their own council tax).
The Order was updated with effect from 18 March 2020 and the original Combination Order sits alongside these amendments
KENT AND MEDWAY FIRE AND RESCUE AUTHORITY
The Authority is constituted under the Kent Fire Services (Combination Scheme) Order 1997. The Order requires that the 25 Members of the Authority should be appointed by the two constituent authorities, Kent County Council and Medway Council, and in proportion to their respective local government electorates. This results in 21 Members being appointed by Kent County Council and 4 by Medway Council. Members of the Authority are required to undertake to observe the provisions of the Authority’s Code of Conduct for Members in the performance of their functions in that office.
2. ORGANISATION OF THE AUTHORITY
2.1 The Authority shall normally meet three times a year, but additional meetings may be held as the Authority decides. Meetings shall normally be held at Kent Fire and Rescue Service Headquarters unless otherwise published.
2.2 The Authority may appoint Committees to carry out any aspect of its business except that the decisions on the annual budget and the amount of council tax to be charged each year shall only be taken at a full meeting of the Authority.
2.3 The Authority shall determine the size and political composition of its Committees and Panels, and Members shall be appointed to serve on these Committees and Panels by the Clerk, on the nomination of the appropriate political group(s).
2.4 Committees shall decide the time, date and place of their meetings.
2.5 Committees may not appoint Sub-Committees without the consent of the Authority.
2.6 All matters relating to the appointment and terms and conditions of employment of the Chief Executive and such other employees as the Authority may determine shall be dealt with by a Senior Officer Appointment and Conditions Committee, whose Chair shall be the Chair of the Authority.
2.7 Appeals against officer decisions on individual employees’ disciplinary, grievance and pension cases, shall be dealt with by an Appeals Panel, comprised of Members who have had no previous involvement with the case concerned.
2.8 The Authority shall elect a Chair and Vice-Chair at its annual meeting which shall normally be held around June each year, and each Committee shall elect a Chair and Vice-Chair at its first meeting after the Authority’s annual meeting each year.
2.9 A casual vacancy in an office of Chair or Vice-Chair of the Authority or one of its Committees shall be filled at the next meeting of the body concerned.
2.10 The Chair, or in his or her absence, the Vice-Chair, of the Authority shall preside at all meetings of the Authority.
2.11 If both the Chair and Vice-Chair are absent from a meeting of the Authority then a Chair for the meeting shall be elected from those Members present.
2.12 If both the Chair and Vice-Chair of a Committee are absent from a meeting of the Committee then a Chair for the meeting shall be elected from those Members present.
2.13 The quorum for a meeting of the Authority shall be one-third of the total number of Members including at least one Member from each of the constituent authorities. The quorum for a meeting of a Committee shall be one half, or in the case of a Committee comprising an odd number, the nearest whole number above one half of the appointed Members.
2.14 Any Member of the Authority may attend any meeting of a Committee except that a Committee considering an item of business that is exempt because it relates to the personal affairs of an individual employee, or past or prospective employee, may resolve to exclude Members other than Members of that Committee.
2.15 Members exercising their right to attend a meeting under Standing Order 2.14, shall not be entitled to vote and may speak only with the permission of the Chair.
2.16 Members of Committees may appoint substitutes to attend Committee meetings in their place in accordance with a scheme approved by the Authority. Substitutes are not permitted at full Authority meetings.
2.17 All meetings of the Authority and its Committees shall be convened by the Clerk or their representative, who shall issue the official documents for Members’ consideration. The documents shall normally be dispatched to Members at least five working days before the meeting.
2.18 Any Member of the Authority wishing to include an item on the agenda for a meeting must give notice of it to the Clerk ten days before the meeting. Items must be relevant to the functions of the Authority.
2.19 Business that is not specified in the agenda for a meeting may not be introduced without the consent of the Chair. Where the Chair decides that there are special circumstances, an item of business not included on the agenda may be considered as a matter of urgency as long as the reason is specified at the time and in the Minutes.
2.20 All Members who attend a meeting of the Authority or a Committee shall sign their names in the attendance record for the meeting or otherwise ensure that their attendance is recorded by the Clerk.
3.1 Motions and amendments shall be formally proposed and seconded. They must be worded so that the meeting, if it agrees, can pass them as valid resolutions. If they are not then the Chair shall rule them out of order.
a) Motions shall be relevant to the item of business under discussion. They must not seek to rescind in whole or in part any resolution passed within the previous six months.
b) This Standing Order shall not preclude the Chair of the meeting from proposing a motion nor the Chief Executive, Clerk or Treasurer from recommending decisions made necessary by changed circumstances since a previous decision was taken.
3.2 If requested by the Chair, the proposer of a motion or amendment must give a written copy of it to the Clerk.
3.3 A proposer may withdraw or change a motion or amendment, provided this is agreed by the seconder at the meeting and the meeting consents. A motion may not be withdrawn or changed while a proposed amendment is undecided.
3.4 During the debate of a motion or amendment no other substantive motion may be put.
3.5 No amendment shall be proceeded with:-
a) Unless it is relevant to, and consistent with, the motion on which it is moved.
b) If it would result in the introduction of a new subject or subjects.
c) If it would effectively negate the motion before the meeting.
d) If it would have the effect of rescinding a previous resolution.
e) If the proposer of the original motion has exercised his or her right of reply.
3.6 If an amendment is rejected, further amendments may be proposed on the original motion.
3.7 If an amendment is carried, it shall take the place of the original motion and become the substantive motion. This revised motion may be subject to proposals for further amendment provided that they do not revive the original motion.
3.8 No further proposals for amendments shall be permitted if an amendment is already before the meeting but has not been dealt with.
3.9 If an amendment is not carried, and there are no further amendments, the substantive motion shall be put to the meeting.
3.10 Members shall speak no more than once on any report, motion or amendment unless invited to do so by the Chair or unless they wish to:-
a) Speak on a point of order, that is a suggestion that a provision of these standing orders or of the law governing the Authority’s proceedings is being breached.
b) Make a personal explanation.
c) Propose or second, without further speaking, that the press and public be excluded from the meeting during consideration of the item of business.
d) Exercise a right of reply. (Note: The right of reply does not give the proposer of a motion the right to speak more than once on each amendment).
3.11 The seconder of a motion or an amendment may reserve their speech until later in the debate on that motion or amendment provided they declare their intention to do so. This right lapses if not claimed before the reply by the proposer of the motion.
3.12 The following shall apply:-
a) Any Member, except the proposer or seconder or a Member who has already spoken on a motion or amendment under consideration, may move that “the question now be put” or that consideration be deferred.
b) No debate is permitted on a motion that “the question now be put”. Once proposed and seconded the Chair must put it to the vote immediately.
c) If a motion that consideration be deferred is proposed and seconded, a Member who has seconded the motion or amendment under discussion and who has reserved their speech may speak; the proposer of the motion may then speak to the motion to defer. No other Member may speak and the Chair must then put the deferral motion to the vote.
d) If a motion “that the question now be put” is carried, a Member who has seconded a motion or amendment under discussion but who has reserved his or her speech may speak; the proposer of the motion may then exercise his or her right of reply. No other Member may speak and the Chair must then put the motion or amendment to the vote.
3.13 If a motion is amended, the proposer of the successful amendment shall not have a right of reply.
3.14 A Member who proposes a motion shall have a right of reply at the end
of the debate on each amendment and immediately before the motion is put to the vote. In exercising that right of reply the Member may only comment on points made during the debate. (Note: The proposer of an amendment to a motion does not have a right of reply to the debate on the amendment).
4 DECISIONS AND VOTING
4.1 A decision may be taken by consensus, the Chair stating his or her understanding of the consensus of the meeting. If any Member requests, the question shall be decided by a show of hands by a majority of voting Members present. Immediately after a vote has been taken any Member may ask that the way he or she voted shall be recorded in the Minutes. If one-third of the Members present so request, the way all Members voted shall be recorded.
4.2 If the votes for and against are equal, the Chair shall have a second or casting vote.
5 CONDUCT AT MEETINGS
5.1 Members shall recognise the authority of the Chair for the conduct of the meeting.
5.2 Members shall address the Chair when speaking. Speeches must be relevant to the matter under discussion.
5.3 The Chair may call a Member to order and direct him or her to stop speaking if the Chair considers that Member’s behaviour to be unacceptable.
5.4 If a Member disregards the authority or ruling of the Chair, the Chair may propose “that the Member (named) leave the meeting”. The motion must be seconded by another Member, and put to the vote without discussion. If it is carried, the named Member must immediately leave the room.
5.5 If a Member of the public interrupts a meeting, or otherwise behaves improperly or offensively, the Chair may, as he or she thinks fit, request that person to leave the meeting room and, if necessary, order his or her removal. In the event of a general disturbance, the Chair may direct that the public be excluded from the meeting room. Nobody so removed or excluded will be permitted to return to the meeting.
5.6 No matter relating to a particular officer or employee of the Authority shall be discussed at a meeting of the Authority or a Committee until the meeting has decided whether or not to exclude the press and public under Section 100(A) of the Local Government Act 1972.
5.7 Reporting on or recording of a public meeting of the Authority or Committee by members of the press or public is allowed, provided it is done in accordance with the Authority’s Regulations on the Rights of the Public to Report on Meetings (published on the Authority’s website).
5.8 The Chair’s ruling on the interpretation and application of these Standing Orders at meetings is final. This includes a ruling on any point of order or explanation.
6.1 If any Member has a Disclosable Pecuniary Interest (as defined in the statutory Regulations made under the Localism Act 2011) or an Other Significant Interest (as defined by the Authority’s Code of Conduct for Members) in any matter being considered at a meeting of the Authority or one of its Committees or Panels, they must act in accordance with the requirements of the Code of Conduct.
6.2 Where a Member is present at a meeting of the Authority or one of its Committees or Panels, and has a Disclosable Pecuniary Interest or Other Significant Interest in any matter being considered at that meeting, they must withdraw from the meeting room while the matter is being discussed or voted upon, unless:-
a) a dispensation for the Member concerned in respect of the interest is in effect;
b) the Member has only an other significant interest in a matter and wishes to make representations, answer questions or give evidence on that matter at the meeting in accordance with the Code of Conduct.
7 ACCESS TO DOCUMENTS
7.1 No Member may disclose to a third party any Authority business or document which is exempt or confidential.
7.2 Members have a right to see such documents as are reasonably necessary to enable them to carry out their duties as Members of the Authority on a “need to know” basis so long as they have no improper or extraneous intentions in so doing.
7.3 Where a Member has asked to see any document and the request has been refused they should seek advice on their right of access from the Clerk. If the matter cannot be resolved the Clerk will report to the Authority.
7.4 No Member shall ask to inspect any document which relates to a matter in which they have a personal or prejudicial interest.
8 VALIDATION OF DOCUMENTS
8.1 The Common Seal of the Authority shall be affixed (and witnessed) to any document that requires to be sealed for the purpose of the transaction of the Authority’s business only if it has been authorised by resolution of the Authority, or by the exercise of a function delegated to the Chief Executive, Clerk or Treasurer of the Authority. The affixing of the Common Seal will be attested by the Chief Executive, Monitoring Officer, Clerk or Treasurer or some other person authorised by them, provided that in any transaction relating to land to which The Regulatory Reform (Execution of Deeds and Documents) Order 2005 applies, the Common Seal shall be attested by a Member of the Authority and an authorised signatory.
8.2 The Chief Executive, Clerk or Treasurer or any other officer duly authorised in writing by them may sign any agreement or other document not required to be executed under Seal, provided the matter has been approved by the Authority or an employee exercising a function delegated to the Chief Executive, Clerk or Treasurer.
9 SUSPENSION OF STANDING ORDERS
9.1 The Authority or a Committee may suspend any of these Standing Orders relating to the procedure to be followed in considering any specific item of business; any such suspension to be the subject of a motion put to a formal vote of the body concerned.
Adopted by Resolution of the Authority on 15 December 1997 and amended by the Authority on 29 June 2023
Committee Terms of Reference
Audit and Governance committee
Audit and Governance Committee
Terms of Reference
Statement of Purpose
The Audit and Governance Committee will be a key component of KMFRA’s corporate governance. It will provide an independent and high-level focus on the audit, assurance and reporting arrangements that underpin good governance and financial standards.
The purpose of this Committee is to provide independent assurance to the Authority of the adequacy of the risk management framework and the internal control environment. It will provided an independent review of KMFRA’s governance, risk management and control frameworks and will oversee the financial reporting and annual governance processes. It will also oversee internal audit and external audit, helping to ensure efficient and effective assurance arrangements are in place.
Governance, Risk and Control
1. To approve the Authority’s corporate governance arrangements against the Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy’s (CIPFA) good governance framework, including the ethical framework and consider the local Code of Corporate Governance.
2. To review the financial Annual Governance Statement (AGS) prior to approval and consider whether it properly reflects the risk environment and supporting assurances, taking into account internal audit’s opinion on the overall adequacy and effectiveness of the Authority’s framework of governance, risk management and control.
3. To consider the Authority’s arrangements to secure value for money and review assurances and assessments on the effectiveness of these arrangements.
4. To approve the Authority’s framework of governance assurance (excl Operational assurance) and ensure that it adequately addresses the risks and priorities of the Authority.
5. To monitor and approve the effective development and operation of fraud and risk management in the Authority.
6. To consider reports on the effectiveness of internal controls and monitor the implementation of agreed actions.
7. To review the governance and assurance arrangements for significant partnerships or collaborations.
8. To approve the Internal Audit Charter.
9. To approve proposals made in relation to the appointment of external providers of internal audit services and to make recommendations.
10. To approve the risk-based internal audit plan, including internal audit’s resource requirements, the approach to using other sources of assurance and any work required to place reliance upon those other sources.
11. To consider any impairments to independence or objectivity arising from additional roles or responsibilities outside of internal auditing of the head of internal audit. To approve and periodically review safeguards to limit such impairments.
12. To consider reports from the Head of Internal Audit on internal audit’s performance during the year, including the performance of external providers of internal audit services. These will include:
• To consider the Head of Internal Audit’s Annual report:
• To consider summaries of specific internal audit reports as requested.
• To receive reports outlining the action taken where the head of internal audit has concluded that management has accepted a level of risk that may be unacceptable to the Authority or there are concerns about progress with the implementation of agreed actions.
13. To consider a report on the effectiveness of internal audit to support the Annual Governance Statement, where required to do so by the Accounts and Audit Regulations.
14. Consider the external auditor’s annual assessment of its independence and review of any issues raised by Public Sector Audit Appointments (PSAA).
15. To consider the external auditor’s Audit Plan, Audit Findings Report and Annual letter.
16. To comment on the scope and depth of external audit work and to ensure it gives value for money.
17. To consider the Audit Risk Assessment, review of accounting policies and the basis of accounting estimates and assumptions applied by management
18. To review the annual statement of accounts. Specifically, to consider whether appropriate accounting policies have been followed and whether there are concerns arising from the financial statements or from the audit that need to be brought to the attention of the Authority.
19. To consider the Authority's Treasury Strategy, Mid-year Treasury Update and Treasury Outturn Report
20. To report annually to those charged with governance on the committee’s findings, conclusions and recommendations concerning the adequacy and effectiveness of their governance, risk management and internal control frameworks, financial reporting arrangements, and internal and external audit functions.
Agreed by the Authority on 27 April 2021 and amended on 29 June 2023
Terms of reference
1. To consider and make decisions on behalf of the Authority on:
a) Appeals under the Firefighters’ Pension Scheme and the New Firefighters’ Pension Scheme;
b) Appeals on matters that are the subject of collective negotiation;
c) Staff disciplinary appeals and grievance hearings as identified in the Conditions of Service and Service Orders;
d) Allegations that a Member has breached the Authority’s Code of Conduct (following investigation in accordance with the Authority’s Arrangements for Dealing with Code of Conduct Complaints under the Localism Act 2011).
Last approved by the Authority on 14 June 2012.
Senior Officer Appointments and Conditions committee
Members' code of conduct
All of the Authority's Members are expected to conduct themselves, when undertaking the business of the Authority, in accordance with the Authority's Code of Conduct for Members. The Authority adopted a new Code of Conduct with effect from 1 July 2012 together with detailed Arrangements for Dealing with Code of Conduct Complaints.
If you want to complain about the conduct of an elected Member you can:
Email your complaint to: email@example.com
Write to: c/o Kent and Medway Fire and Rescue Authority’s Monitoring Officer, The Godlands, Straw Mill Hill, Tovil, Maidstone, ME15 6XB
Any complaint alleging that an elected Member has breached the code of conduct is reviewed by the Monitoring Officer or in consultation with the Independent Person, where appropriate. They will decide if any action should be taken and if the matter should be referred to a Hearings Panel. They will not deal with complaints about things that are not covered by the Kent Code of Conduct for Members. Your complaint must state why you think the elected Member has not followed the Kent Code of Conduct.
Please note that if your complaint is about the work of the Kent Fire and Rescue Service, there is a separate procedure for making a complaint.
Scheme of delegation of powers to the Chief Executive
The scheme sets out those decisions which can only be taken by the Authority or one of its Committees (ie, by Members of the Authority), and those which can be taken by the Chief Executive or other members of staff.
Convention on Member and officer relations
KENT& MEDWAY FIRE & RESCUE AUTHORITY CONVENTION ON MEMBER/OFFICER RELATIONS
1. SCOPE OF THE CONVENTION
1.1 This convention deals with the working relationships between Members (both as individuals and collectively within their political groups) and the officers of the Authority, and has been agreed by the Authority to ensure the smooth running of its processes. In general, in their working relationships with each other, both Members and officers are required to abide by their respective Codes of Conduct, and this Convention is intended to be consistent with those Codes.
2.1 “Group” refers to the political party groups (Conservative, Labour, Liberal Democrat, etc, and comprising two or more Members) on the Authority notified to the Clerk to the Authority under Section 15 of the Local Government and Housing Act 1989 and “party group leaders” refers to the leader of each of these groups.
2.2 “Spokesmen” are Members appointed by those groups and notified to the Clerk to the Authority to act on behalf of the Group in relation to the business of any particular Committee.
2.3 “Chair” are the Members elected as Chair and Vice-Chair by each Committee.
2.4 “Committee” includes Sub-Committee.
2.5 “Chief Executive”, “Clerk” and “Treasurer” includes officers deputed to represent officers at Committee meetings.
3.1 This convention is based on the principle that officers’ duty is to all Members of the Authority as a single corporate body. Officers are therefore required to provide information, offer advice and give assistance in the formulation of policy proposals impartially to all political party groups which seek such information, advice and assistance. In relation to the formulation of policy and strategy proposals neither Members nor officers should assume that the participants in any such discussion are supportive of the proposals merely because they have participated or assisted in their formulation. Officers also have to recognise the position of Chair and the need to work with them to facilitate the discharge of the Authority’s functions and the delivery of services.
3.2 Briefings of Members by officers will occur both within the Committee process and outside it.
Formal - Within the Committee Framework
3.3 Prior to the dispatch of each Authority or Committee agenda, the Chair and Vice- Chair of that body will be briefed by the Chief Executive and the Clerk or their nominated representatives. The content of the agenda will be discussed during that briefing and, subject both to the Chief Executive’s right to include an item on an agenda and to the right of any Member of the Authority to place an item on an agenda under Standing Order 2.18, will, so far as possible, be agreed with the Chair.
3.4 Group spokesmen will, if they so request, be informed of items likely to be included on a forthcoming agenda once the Clerk is reasonably confident of these.
3.5 Following the publication of the agenda and reports for an Authority or committee meeting, the group spokesmen on that body will, if they so request, be briefed by officers on the papers.
3.6 Any proposal by the Chief Executive, Clerk or Treasurer to include an urgent item on an agenda shall be the subject of consultation with the Chair.
3.7 From time to time it will be necessary for the Chief Executive to take decisions on specific or urgent issues which are outside normal delegations, between meetings of the Authority or Committees after consulting the Chair of the Authority. The outcome of any such consultation shall be reported at the next meeting of the Authority or Committee concerned.
Informal Briefings Outside the Committee Framework
3.8 There will be issues upon which additional briefings will need to be arranged. Any briefing offered to or requested by a party group will be offered to the other party groups. Where possible such briefings should be to all or a combination of party groups.
3.9 The leader or relevant spokesman of a group may ask the Chief Executive to give or arrange a private and confidential briefing for the group on any matter of relevance to the Authority.
3.10 Such briefings are seen as an opportunity for Members to brief officers on policy issues and to give an indication of support or opposition to a proposal. When briefings are held with one or two party groups only, officers will maintain strict confidentiality in respect of comments made by Members during those briefing meetings and will not divulge them to other party groups.
4. MEMBERS’ RIGHTS OF ACCESS TO DOCUMENTS
4.1 Standing Order 7.2 gives Members a right to see (and be given a copy of) such documents as are reasonably necessary to enable them to carry out their duties as Members of the Authority on a “need to know” basis, so long as they have no improper nor extraneous intention in so doing. This includes all documents available to the public as “background documents”.
4.2 It is ultimately for the Authority to determine what is reasonably necessary for a Member to know but normally, the Chief Executive will make the judgement, in consultation if necessary with the Clerk.
Need to Know
4.3 This will be generously interpreted as applying to all documents to which there is no “confidential” connotation, subject only to the Chief Executive retaining a discretion to decline to make available voluminous documents or diffuse information, or copies of documents, where the cost of doing so is unreasonably high.
4.4 Documents which are regarded as “confidential” will normally be made available, on a confidential basis, only to Members serving on the specific Committee concerned. Requests from other Members should be referred to the Clerk.
4.5 There is no generic definition of “confidential” and the Chief Executive will exercise judgement. It would include, for example, most documents relating to named individuals in receipt of services from the Authority and most documents relating to the terms of contracts which are still being negotiated. It is a narrower category than documents which are exempt from disclosure to the public under the Access to Information legislation (and different from the “confidential” classification under that legislation).
4.6 Members’ rights of access apply to documents sent to the Authority or prepared for it by officers or consultants. They do not apply to:-
a) Draft documents of a factual or research nature where the Chief Executive is not satisfied as to their accuracy or completeness.
b) Working documents discussing policy or budget options or the internal management of the Service where the Chief Executive has not reached a view as to the advice to be offered to Members.
c) Draft reports prior to their despatch to Members of the Authority or one of its Committees by the Clerk.
4.7 The Chief Executive may consult the Chair of the Authority or of the relevant committee on draft reports to Members as part of the agenda planning process under the Convention and may also consult them on working documents if he or she so wishes.
4.8 Documents prepared at the request of any particular party group will not be made available to other party groups without the first group’s consent. Nor will such documents be used in the preparation of committee reports without the group’s consent. All relevant information will be sent out in a separate document to which all Members with a need to know shall have access.
4.9 More detailed advice can be obtained from the Clerk.
5. PRESS STATEMENTS AND RELATIONS WITH THE MEDIA
5.1 Official press statements relating to the normal functions and business of the Authority of a non-controversial nature may be issued by the Chief Executive from time to time.
5.2 After publication copies will be made available to any Member of the Authority on request.
5.3 In issuing any press release, the Chief Executive will have regard to the Code of Practice on Local Authority Publicity.
5.4 Only the Chair of the Authority, or in his or her absence, the Vice-Chair, or another Member nominated by the Chair) may represent the Authority in press, radio and television interviews.
5.5 Other Members of the Authority may respond to requests for press, radio and television interviews, but these will be given in a personal capacity and on the personal responsibility of the Member concerned.
5.6 The Chief Executive or, with his or her agreement, the relevant Director may deal with requests for information or questions asked by the press, television or radio and may accept invitations to broadcast or appear on television in order to give the facts of a situation or provide background information on:-
a) Channel Tunnel Safety Authority matters.
b) Matters relating to the Authority’s policies, subject to the appearance being made known to the Chair in advance so far as is practicable.
5.7 Any Member who receives a Freedom of Information request relating to the Authority or its business should pass it immediately to the Chief Executive for formal processing under the Act.
6. MEMBERS’ RIGHTS OF ACCESS TO AUTHORITY PREMISES
6.1 Members may visit Fire and Rescue Service premises by prior arrangement with the Chief Executive or the Officer in charge of the establishment. Such arrangements should be made through the Clerk.
Adopted by Resolution of the Authority, 27 January 1998, and reviewed 29 June 2023.
Code of Corporate Governance
In 2016, the Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy (CIPFA) published a revised Governance Framework document and associated guidance, incorporating a number of new and revised areas specific to the way public services are now provided and structured.
In response to this, the Authority revised its Code of Corporate Governance, and the new code was approved by the authority’s general purposes committee. The code sets out the seven key principles of good governance which the authority has adopted and the means by which these principles are adhered to and evidenced.
The code has been further reviewed and updated to ensure that it incorporates the requirements of new guidance issued by CIPFA. The updated Code of Corporate Governance was subsequently approved by the authority at the meeting on 23 July 2020.
If you have any concerns about the way in which Kent and Medway Fire and Rescue Authority, its Members, officers or agents conduct its business, or believe that elements of this code are not being complied with please contact one of the following as appropriate. Your enquiry will be treated confidentially and a response made following investigation of the facts in each case.
Straw Mill Hill
Maidstone ME15 6XB
Telephone 01622 692121
Straw Mill Hill
Maidstone ME15 6XB
Telephone 01622 692121
Grant Thornton UK
St John’s House
Haslett Avenue West