Anger as fire chief pay goes up 15%

Firefighters have hit out after it emerged Norfolk's chief fire officer has received a pay increase of almost 15pc, while their pay packets increased by just 1.25pc.

Firefighters have hit out after it emerged Norfolk's chief fire officer has received a pay increase of almost 15pc, while their pay packets increased by just 1.25pc.

The basic salary of chief fire officer Richard Elliott, pictured, increased from �99,100 in 2007-08 to �113,600 for 2008-09.

County council bosses, who awarded the increase, said it reflected extra responsibilities after a change in the role and it was still lower than the salary many other counties pay.

It remains lower than the �129,000 salary paid to Norfolk's chief constable, Ian McPherson.


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But the Fire Brigades Union said the money would be better spent on improving training and equipment for firefighters and paying overtime so stations which can be short of crews get a full complement of firefighters.

Neil Day, FBU Norfolk brigade secretary, said: "We got an increase which was agreed nationally, but Mr Elliott would have got that on top of the extra money he received.

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"Unfortunately for us, we continue to struggle with having not enough firefighters, a lack of training and some of our equipment being outdated.

"It makes it difficult to justify that sort of salary increase for the chief fire officer when we are constantly told the money is not in the budget for other things.

"It gives us concern when they say it's because he is responsible for other departments. He needs to be concentrating on his main role as chief fire officer first and foremost."

Mr Day said trainee firefighters earned around �21,000 a year, with experienced firefighters paid around �28,000.

Daniel Cox, chairman of the Norfolk County Council personnel committee which approved the chief fire officer's salary rise last December, said: "In 2006, the role of chief fire officer for Norfolk changed and became chief fire officer and director of community protection.

"The changes included responsibility for the council's trading standards and emergency planning departments.

"Following an independent review by external assessors, the salary scale for the post was adjusted to reflect the changes and after comparisons with other, similar positions across the country."

Martin Barsby, spokesman for Norfolk Fire and Rescue Service, said it was important to put the increase into context. He said Suffolk had advertised for a chief fire officer with a salary of �114,000 for a smaller brigade, while Essex, Cambridgeshire and Bedfordshire all paid above �120,000.

But David Callaby, Liberal Democrat fire and community protection spokesman, said: "In the current financial climate, this is absolutely disgusting. It's a disgrace that this has been agreed at a time when we are looking at cuts in council services and when frontline officers are getting so little."

Mr Elliott, along with hundreds of other County Hall bosses, could see changes to their roles in the months ahead.

With pressure mounting on public finances as the country struggles to shake off the recession, county council chiefs are to review the roles of their 600 highest paid managers as part of the first phase of an overhaul to save �140m.

Mr Cox has set out a political blueprint to shake up the authority and slash costs ahead of an expected cut in government funding in the next three years.

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