Bristol

Avon's chief fire officer and deputy suspended

Kevin Pearson
Image caption Chief fire officer Kevin Pearson has been suspended with immediate effect

The chief and deputy chief fire officer of Avon Fire and Rescue Service have been suspended.

It follows the publication of a critical Home Office report last week into the way the service is run.

A spokesman said the decision to suspend chief Kevin Pearson and deputy Lorraine Houghton was made by an Avon Fire Authority Employment Committee.

An investigation into the findings contained within the report will be carried out.

The spokesman added: "Suspension is a neutral act to protect the organisation and the individuals concerned.

"At the moment these are only allegations which will be investigated in line with disciplinary procedures and processes."

'Illusory sacrifice'

The Home Office report accused Avon Fire Authority, which oversees the service, as being an "old boys club" and there was a perception that bullying and harassment was "endemic".

In relation to Mr Pearson, investigators found officials on the authority's Special Purposes Committee (SPC) agreed a reduction in pay of 22% for him.

But he was able to claim on his pension to cancel out the reduction, making the pay cut an "illusory sacrifice".

Mr Pearson took up his role in 2001 and Ms Houghton became deputy in October last year.

While they are suspended, support will be provided by the chief fire officer of Gloucestershire Fire and Rescue Service Stewart Edgar, with the help of other neighbouring fire and rescue services.

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