Pat Watters has been appointed the first Chair of the new single Scottish Fire and Rescue Service, the serially retitled Community Safety Minister, Roseanna Cunningham, announced on Friday.
Mr Watters must feel he has done all this before, in his previous job as President of COSLA (Convention of Scottish Local Authorities) from 2001 to 2012, and as a councillor in South Lanarkshire for 30 years.
Much of his professional life will have been spent on firefighting and rescue expeditions so he seems a natural in the post. Been there. Done that.
He will work closely with newly appointed Chief Officer, Alasdair Hay, to lead and shape the new service; and with government and other partners to ensure a smooth transition to the new service, which aims to go live on 1st April 2013.(And yes, it’s hard to record that start date without recoil.)
Ms Cunningham says that Mr Watter’s ‘… experience in public life – as well as his leadership and communication skills – will be crucial in working with Alasdair Hay to shape the new service.”
Mr Watters says that ‘Firefighters and staff will have a crucial role to play in the new service and I will ensure we utilise their skills, expertise and ability to the full to shape and the deliver the new Scottish Fire and Rescue Service. And, above all, we will engage constructively with communities and local authorities in all parts of Scotland to ensure they all feel the benefits of reform.’
His appointment will be for three years and from September 2012. It is part-time and he is to be paid £430 a day for a time commitment of between 15 to 20 days per month until 1st April 2013. For the first full year, the time commitment is expected to be at least 10 days per month but no more than 15.
This seems odd as one would expect the first year to be the most demanding.
Pat Watters first entered local government in 1982 as a councillor for East Kilbride serving on Strathclyde Regional Council, where he became Chair of Personnel, a position which he retained when moving to South Lanarkshire Council in 1995, where he was a councillor until stepping down in May this year.
Mr Watters was elected COSLA President in October 2001 having served as Vice President since June 1999. He stepped down as President earlier this year, after 11 years in the role.
He was one of the leading members of the Education Management Side which successfully negotiated the historic McCrone agreement on Teachers’ Pay and Appendix 2 Conditions. He was also instrumental in achieving a solution to the UK wide fire dispute in 2003.
In accordance with the original Nolan recommendations, there is a requirement for appointees’ political activity within the last five years (if there is any to be declared) to be made public.
Mr Watters has declared political activity. He has attained office as a local councillor in East Kilbride in South Lanarkshire, he has spoken on behalf of the Labour Party and has canvassed and helped at elections. He is also an active constituency member.