Fire authority to be run by police commissioner?

PUBLISHED: 16:24 27 July 2017

Sue Mountstevens could be in line for a role running Avon Fire and Rescue Service in future.

Sue Mountstevens could be in line for a role running Avon Fire and Rescue Service in future.

Archant

Avon Fire Authority is set to be taken over by the Avon and Somerset Police and Crime Commissioner after scathing criticism over its mismanagement.

The elected role, currently held by Sue Mountstevens, will in future take on additional responsibilities after a meeting involving council leaders and local mayors yesterday (Wednesday) concluded Avon Fire and Rescue Service was no longer equipped to run itself.

The move comes following stinging criticism over Avon Fire Authority’s failings, in an independent report which the Government ordered following accusations of bullying.

Dr Craig Baker’s report, which was released last week, concluded there were ‘failings in leadership and culture’ and evidence senior managers received bumper pay rises while firefighters’ pay was capped.

He also said the leadership of the authority needed to be ‘revitalised’.

Although a new chairman for the Avon Fire Authority has been appointed in Donald Davies, West of England council leaders and mayors do not believe enough will be done.

In a statement, they said: “We’ve all seen the inspection report and it’s highly critical of the governance, leadership and the culture of Avon Fire Authority.

“We have also seen the response of the current fire authority, which we feel does not address the failings and therefore we are not convinced it can fix itself.

“As leaders we have a responsibility to our residents to ensure that the issues identified in this report are put right.

“We believe this can only be done with a radical restructure.

“We will form a new reduced fire authority in line with the report’s recommendations with the Police and Crime Commissioner.

“We have not taken this decision lightly and it is one that we have come to in the interests of residents and the many hard-working and dedicated Avon Fire and Rescue Service officers and staff who deserve strong accountability, support and reassurance.

“We will be talking to the Home Office about our choices and seeking advice about future arrangements.”

Avon Fire Authority current consists of 25 councillors from councils in the South West, including several from North Somerset.

It is holding an extraordinary meeting in the wake of last week’s report today (Thursday).

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