Yesterday (19th July) the Home Office published an independent report following a statutory inspection into Avon Fire and Rescue Authority.
The report concludes that the authority is failing to improve the crucial functions of the authority, including its economy, efficiency and effectiveness.
The inspection was commissioned by the Home Office in February this year after a series of allegations that were brought to the attention of the Government in 2015 and the failure of the authority to commission its own independent inspection.
The statutory inspection, conducted by Dr Craig Baker, considered allegations including that of poor conduct, failures of governance, ineffective leadership and management, as well as concerns of poor conduct of elected members, a culture of fear and bullying at the authority and silencing and exiting of people who do not conform to the regime.
The report makes a number of proposals directed to Avon Fire and Rescue Service including reviewing and reforming the senior management board; a review of the Authority's Integrated Risk Management Plan; and the introduction of a programme board to drive change and support the senior management team.
The Government will work closely with the National Fire Chiefs' Council and the Local Government Association (LGA) to support the authority take forward the proposals made in the report.
The report has been published on the same day as the Home Office confirms plans for a new independent inspectorate which will ensure fire authorities are held to consistently high standards and are as professional, effective and as efficient as possible.
Minister for Policing and the Fire Service, Nick Hurd said:
"I welcome this independent and comprehensive report and I would like to thank Dr Baker and his team for the professional manner in which they approached the inspection.
"I am encouraged that the authority has already put in place some changes, including a new Chair of the authority. I hope that they will carefully consider the findings and put in place the proposals in the report to ensure they are as professional and as effective as possible.
"The outcome of this report demonstrates the importance of the fire and rescue service having an independent inspectorate. This is why today I am also announcing the appointment of an independent inspectorate. This will help support services in their continuous improvement to make sure they are as accountable, effective and professional than ever before."
To further professionalise the service, the Government is also:
developing an independent professional standards body which will provide a set of standards which fire and rescue services can follow; and
considering including in the Fire and Rescue National Framework for England a requirement to discourage the practice of senior fire officers retiring and then being rehired in the same or similar posts for more favourable pension terms. The National Framework will also undergo a complete revision with a new version published in early 2018. Notes to editors
For further enquiries, please contact the Home Office press office on 0202 035 3535
The full report is published on gov.uk
The statutory inspection was undertaken under section 10 of the Local Government Act 1999 into Avon Fire and Rescue Authority's compliance with its duty to make arrangements to secure continuous improvement in the way in which its functions in respect of governance are exercised, having regard to a combination of economy, efficiency and effectiveness.
Under Section 10 of the Local Government Act 1999, the costs of the inspection will be met by Avon Fire and Rescue Authority.