MP backs investigation of fire service overtime claims

Clive Betts
Clive Betts
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A SOUTH Yorkshire MP expressed surprise that chief fire officers had received overtime payments and welcomed an investigation into how they had been made.

Sheffield South East MP Clive Betts said: “My assumption would be whether it’s the chief executive or any senior officers of a council or chief fire officers or chief constables, they are all receiving a sum of money that involves to some extent working at any time they are required to work – that’s part of the job.

“It surprises me that any consideration has been given to such payments and that they have been approved. It’s right that the matter is referred to auditors and is properly investigated by them.”

South Yorkshire Fire Service said its chief officers would not be commenting but defended the payments on the grounds the service was more stretched than others during strikes and therefore required chief officers on frontline duty.

A spokesman said: “Principal officers staffed fire engines or responded to emergencies in order to maintain fire cover in South Yorkshire during 47 separate periods of national strike action. This falls outside of their normal duties and therefore accrues overtime pay. We repeatedly called on the government and the Fire Brigades Union (FBU) to negotiate an end to their dispute, but had to put plans in place to keep our communities safe during this protracted action.”

FBU regional official Ian Murray said: “At a time when we are being told every single penny counts in the organisation and we have seen, and are still seeing, unprecedented cuts to the front line fire service within South Yorkshire this leaves a bad taste. Someone, somewhere must be accountable for these payments being made.

“We would urge concerned members of the public to contact South Yorkshire Fire Authority members and ask at which meeting these extra payments were approved, by who and why. The FBU will be seeking answers from both managers, the chair of the fire authority and its auditors.”