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Fire chief says Avon Fire and Rescue now in 'a good place'

Mick Crennell, chief fire officer at Avon Fire and Rescue
Image caption Mick Crennell said the culture at Avon Fire and Rescue would "feel different"

The new boss of a fire service criticised in a government report for being an "old boy's club", has said they are now in a "good place".

Avon Fire and Rescue's chief officer Kevin Pearson and his deputy Lorraine Houghton were suspended following the report from the Home Office in 2017.

It found senior officers enjoyed big pay rises and enhanced pensions.

New Chief Fire Officer Mick Crennell said staff were "working together to resolve our issues".

Mr Crennell, who was appointed in April 2018, said he wanted to improve the culture of the service.

"Of course we will be able to check if we have delivered on projects and programmes, but it will feel different," he said.

"To all of our staff's credit we're in a really good place."

Image caption A damning report had found a perception that bullying was "endemic" at Avon Fire and Rescue

Mr Crennell was appointed as interim chief fire officer following the suspension in July 2018 of Kevin Pearson, who led the service for 16 years.

Mr Pearson described the report as a "witch hunt" and died in November after a short illness.

Mr Crennell said changing the culture of the service was the most difficult challenge he had faced.

"It was difficult to look in the mirror at what was happening here, but it let us focus on us and our people," he said.

"What was important was to provide consistency, leadership and a sense of direction."

Mr Crennell added that the two-year programme to improve the service would be complete in the autumn.

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