Chief fire officer takes 20% pay cut to help deal with budget reductions
THE chief officer at Avon Fire and Rescue is having his pay cut by £37,000 to help deal with budget cuts.
Kevin Pearson earns £130,000 a year so it represents a 22 per cent drop in salary.
Avon Fire Authority agreed the reduction yesterday, as part of a £2.6 million cuts plan for 2011/12.
As well as reviewing the chief fire officer's salary, authority members also approved plans to reduce the salaries of the fire and rescue service management board by up to 22 per cent for all future appointments.
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In a report to the authority Mr Pearson said he was "willing to accept the decision of the fire authority".
He said: "Throughout this cost cutting process I said we would look at every part of the organisation as we seek to deliver the necessary savings, while at the same time protecting the 999 response the community relies on.
"I promised to start at the top and that was not rhetoric. I meant what I said – the savings that will arise from this decision will protect jobs in the longer term.
"The wages of all public sector managers have been the subject of considerable debate in recent months. Avon Fire Authority has taken this decision so that we can continue to provide a first class emergency service to the public."
The fire service has had to make the cuts after the Government reduced its grant by £2.3 million.
Chair of Avon Fire Authority Terry Walker previously branded the reduction "unfair" and said it would have a "massive impact" on the service.
He said: "I thank the chief fire officer for his personal commitment to reaching the £2.6 million worth of savings we must make this year.
"There is no doubt the scale of the savings we must make are daunting but we can achieve them.
"Without question, making savings in management salaries will lessen the impact in other areas of the organisation."
The Fire Brigades Union said they were pleased senior management was doing their part to deal with the cuts but were unhappy by the severity of the government's reductions.
Brigade secretary for the South West Chris Jackson said: "If it saves one firefighter that's a good thing.
"If it could save two it would be better.
"Our firefighters have dealt with it in a measured way, but we're not happy with the front loaded cuts.
"We thought it was going to be four or five per cent, but it turned out to be nine.
"We've not had time to prepare staff for the changes and we're extremely unhappy about the job losses.
"We're glad it has been recognised that senior managers should take a hit as well as firefighters."