Now fire chief faces call to quit in ‘secret’ payments row

CHIEF fire officers have been asked to repay controversial overtime payments totalling more than £42,000 which were uncovered by The Yorkshire Post

Councillor Steve Ayris is demanding the resignation of fire authority chairman Jim Andrews

Jim Andrews, chairman of South Yorkshire Fire Authority, who personally approved the ‘secret’ payments, is also facing a call to resign.

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An internal audit has previously revealed the payments, which officers received for working during strikes over the last two years, were withheld from public scrutiny because they were considered too “sensitive”.

South Yorkshire’s chief fire officer, Jamie Courtney, received an extra £14,390 on top of his £185,000 salary package, while his deputy Mark Shaw, who retired earlier this year, received £14,820 and the assistant chief John Roberts, who is now deputy, a further £13,425.

A special meeting of the authority’s audit committee yesterday ended with a raft of recommendations after councillors expressed serious concerns about how the payments were made without their knowledge.

One said that “in view of the importance of maintaining public confidence in the authority” the chief officers should consider repaying the money. Repayment would have to be on a voluntary basis as the payments have been declared lawful despite a catalogue of governance failures highlighted in an internal report.

Coun Andrews has also been called upon to explain his actions at the next full meeting of the authority in January. One committee member, Sheffield Liberal Democrat councillor Steve Ayris, said he should resign.

Coun Ayris said even if the payments were technically lawful, authorising them outside of any public scrutiny was “immoral”.