There is another aspect of this ‘Chief Fire Officer to retire’ story. What Council services will have to be cut to pay for two Chief Fire Officer pensions, in addition to the salaries of an existing and a new post?
Deputy Lee Neale, who retired recently, was doing Sean Ruth’s job, whilst he was off doing something else. Lee Neale would have been paid as Chief Fire Officer, so he is now presumably getting a Chief Fire Officer’s pension, instead of a lower Deputy’s pension. If Sean Ruth gets his way, that will be another Chief Fire Officer’s pension, presumably with a lump sum payment out of the budget, plus his continuing salary. Not forgetting of course, the new Chief Fire Officer’s salary.
At a time of austerity, when jobs and services have been cut, that is contemptible. Cabinet Member David Barling claimed last month that the Council could not afford to review the service’s increasing failures to meet response times. Something that would have cost significantly less than this travesty and something that would have benefited West Sussex residents.
There is also the damage this will do to firefighter morale. Many serving firefighters, who risk their lives instead of driving desks, are facing increased payments for a less beneficial pension and will have to work to the age of 60 to collect it. Now they see their chief officer trying to get his hands on his very much better pension, at the age of 50, and wanting to stay in his very well paid job.
So much for us all being in this together, all having to tighten our belts, etc, etc. If County Council Leader Louise Goldsmith has any credibility, then she ought to consider if this inept move has brought the County Council in to disrepute, and who should be held to account for that.