Fire Brigades Union

Fire Brigades Union

April 21, 2011 03:00 ET

FOI Revelations Throw Discipline of Forty Essex Firefighters Into Question

ESSEX, ENGLAND--(Marketwire - April 20, 2011) - Forty firefighters have written warnings hanging over them for daring to raise concerns with local politicians about frontline cuts and the pay and expenses of their fire chiefs. And now these latest revelations seem to explain why fire chiefs took such a heavy-handed approach.

The firefighters were accused of defamation in their discipline cases for raising privately with local politicians their concerns about the spending decisions and pay of their chief fire officer, David Johnson. Now, the same concerns have been published in the Daily Mail, as the result of a Freedom of Information request from the Conservative councillor for Brentwood, Councillor Quirk. Mr Johnson is alleged to have spent £20,000 of taxpayers' money on moving out of the county, while planning £10 million cuts to services. He receives a £148,633 salary and £31,656 pension contribution a year, and is alleged to have claimed £3,704.60 towards new carpets, £3,466.93 for floor tiles and £324 for Laura Ashley curtains. Mr Johnson is also said to have claimed £8,250.77 in expenses since 2008, while seven senior managers put in claims of £46,000 in two years. One billed taxpayers for a £181 trip to an exclusive gentleman's club.

Local Government Secretary Eric Pickles, the Conservative MP for Brentwood and Ongar, has asked why the chief fire officer of Essex should need money to move out of the county.

Neil Day, the Fire Brigades Union official for East Anglia, said today: "These figures, which the FBU cannot verify, come from FoI requests made by Conservative councillors in Brentwood, who are properly concerned about the cut of a full time fire crew from their local fire station.

"But we have been concerned for some time about the priorities of the Essex fire brigade management. Their pay and expenses seem to expand whilst they tell everyone else to tighten their belts and make cuts to frontline services.

"And it's no surprise to us that the Brentwood councillor, Councillor Quirk, has faced such difficulty getting straight answers. In recent months more than forty firefighters have been disciplined for raising their concerns in confidence with politicians.

"Those firefighters were accused of defamation and now have written warnings hanging over them. It's a crude way of keeping them quiet.

"If their private comments were defamatory, then we assume Mr Johnson will now take legal action against the Daily Mail and Mr Pickles. If he does not, we await his apology to our members.

Contact Information

  • Neil Day
    FBU East Anglia Regional Office
    0137652 1521

    Keith Handscomb
    FBU executive member
    07730 435633