Footage from tense Buckinghamshire Fire and Rescue Service meeting removed after damning report
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A tense meeting about the failings of Buckinghamshire Fire and Rescue Service has been redacted after a damning report by inspectors.
A report by His Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services (HMICFRS) last week found that Bucks Fire Service was “overly reliant” on neighbouring services, was “inadequate” at protecting the public through fire regulation and that staff had leadership concerns.
Following the report, Buckinghamshire & Milton Keynes Fire Authority, which oversees Bucks Fire Service, held an extraordinary meeting on Tuesday (24 October) to discuss the report’s findings.
However, the authority redacted footage of the meeting before posting it on YouTube, claiming its legal team had advised it to do so to “avoid the publication of the inappropriate naming of employees of the authority”.
It is unclear exactly what was redacted from the footage, but the BBC Local democracy Reporting Service (LDRS) understands that there was disagreement among authority members about the reasons for the report.
During the meeting, author of the report, HMICFRS inspector Roy Wilsher, fielded tough questions from members about Bucks Fire Service’s performance.
Councillor Emily Darlington asked him to elaborate on his leadership comments, which included that “senior leaders don’t always act as positive role models” and a finding from last year’s culture survey that staff do not “trust” those at the top.
She said: “Are you saying it is an individual? Are you saying that we should have done more?
“I don’t want to put you in too uncomfortable a position, but I am aware of previous discussions you may have had with members of the authority, and I think it would be good to share that with the entire room.”
Mr Wilsher said he was not “pointing the finger” at any particular senior leader but said they could “be more visible”, take feedback better and suggested they may benefit from “teambuilding”.
Authority member Councillor Robin Stuchbury told the LDRS that he was not allowed to discuss the contents of the redacted section of the meeting.
He said: “There was a difference of opinion around the reasons for the fire authority’s report. Clearly there was an exchange of words. I am not at liberty to tell you what they were.”
During the meeting, the Bucks councillor was cut off by the chair Councillor Simon Rouse, who initially refused to let him speak again, before allowing him a second question near the end of the session.
As Councillor Stuchbury tried to ask a second question, the chair cut in and said: “You’ve had your go. Councillor Stuchbury I am talking. I am going to ask some questions first.”
Mr Wilsher responded to Councillor Stuchbury’s first question about staffing concerns, saying that staff retention was a “country-wide problem”.
Overall the HMICFRS inspection found the fire service to be in need of improvement. Rating the fire service by the second lowest grade in nine of 11 categories, it was found to be inadequate and adequate in the other two. No aspects of the service were rated as good.