Cumbria council cuts top director job as fire chief resigns
Last updated at 15:04, Sunday, 03 November 2013
Cumbria County Council is cutting one of its director posts in efforts to save another £80 million.
The council has carried out a review of its senior bosses as part of a top-level cost-cutting move. Details of a slimmed-down structure are expected to be revealed next week.
But it has been announced this week that Dominic Harrison, the county’s chief fire officer and the council’s director for safer and stronger communities, is taking voluntary redundancy.
His last day at work was yesterday.
Council chiefs have already said his duties will be divided between the four remaining directors.
Sources say a formal announcement about the council’s most senior management, drawn up following a review, will be made within days.
Mr Harrison was responsible for the fire service – which is faced with having to slice £500,000 off its budget – as well as Trading Standards, Emergency Planning, Safer Communities and the Community Unit.
It is understood that his range of responsibilities would be shared between the four new director roles.
A county council spokeswoman said that the new director roles would have a different range of responsibilities from the current ones and added: “There are currently five directors and we are going to have four.
“Until the council finalises its new senior management structure, the fire service will be led by Dominic’s deputy, Ian Cartwright.”
Mr Harrison, 50, is said to be leaving on a “voluntary severance” basis. He said he was sad to be leaving but looking forward to a new challenge after 30 years in the fire service.
His departure comes after the Fire Brigades Union (FBU) warned lives could be lost if the council pushes ahead with proposals to close a fire station and lose retained firefighters as part of the council cost-cutting.
FBU north west secretary Les Skarratts said the cuts faced by Cumbria County Council, including £540,000 to the fire service, could slow emergency response times and “lead to more deaths and injuries”.
He warned that the scale of the cuts could lead to a reduced ability to deal with fire, floods, traffic incidents and other emergencies such as aterrorist attack.
“More lives will be destroyed as a result of damage to property, communities, businesses, schools, the economy and the environment,” he said.
“Every firefighter, whether retained or wholetime, plays a crucial role in protecting public safety: there are no ‘backroom ’ savings to be made.”
Bosses at the county’s fire and rescue service said they were considering the removal of one of the two fire engines based at each of five stations in the county – Penrith, Whitehaven, Workington, Maryport and Kendal.
Mr Skarratts said the cuts would mean the loss of six engines, 40 retained firefighters and one retained station. He called on the council to work with central government “to balance their budgets without putting people’s lives at risk”.
Claims that changes could lead to lives being put at risk have been denied by the council.
The £80m savings being demanded in the next three financial years are on top of £88m saved in the previous three.
First published at 10:04, Friday, 01 November 2013
Published by http://www.nwemail.co.uk
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