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Avon Fire Authority: PCC considering takeover

Avon Fire Authority is accused of being run for the benefit of senior officers, not the community
Image caption Avon Fire Authority is accused of being run for the benefit of senior officers, not the community

Avon and Somerset's Police and Crime Commissioner Sue Mountstevens is considering a takeover of the area's fire service after it was criticised for having an "old boys club" culture.

Her comments followed a report about Avon Fire and Rescue that she said "makes grim reading".

She said: "We are looking at exploring options for different ways of governance".

Fire authority chair Donald Davies said "mistakes have been made".

The PCC said the report "left a nasty taste in the mouth".

"Particularly in the light of the austerity cuts that we've all had in the public sector," she said. "To see that firefighters have had a 1% pay rise and then there are some people at the top that have seen big pay rises and increases to their pensions."

'Expensive mistakes'

The Home office report also found there was a perception that bullying and harassment were "endemic".

Independent investigator Craig Baker examined a period of six years from 2011.

He said the authority had "not exercised appropriate levels of scrutiny for some time" which led to "expensive mistakes" being made.

Councillor Davies, an independent at North Somerset Council and Chair of Avon Fire Authority, said: "Mistakes have been made in the past and they cannot be ignored.

"The biggest frustration to me is that in the past, when our budgets were not as squeezed as they are today, money was wasted.

"Now is the time for the members of Avon Fire Authority to work together and show the leadership which has been lacking in the past."

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