The ArgusFire authority criticised over 'junket' (From The Argus)

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Fire authority criticised over 'junket'

The Argus: Chief Fire Officer Des Prichard Chief Fire Officer Des Prichard

A fire authority has been criticised for inviting its members to a taxpayer-funded conference at a golf and spa resort – three weeks after announcing fire engine and job cuts.

East Sussex Fire Authority last month axed 24 full-time posts across Brighton and Hove and will remove a fire engine from either Preston Park or Hove in a bid to save more than £7 million over the next five years.

But it has been accused of frivolous spending after inviting 18 councillors who sit on the authority to a taxpayer-funded conference and overnight stay at the Wyboston Lakes resort in Bedfordshire.

The invitation, sent on behalf of chief fire officer Des Prichard, includes dinner and travel arrangements for the 260-mile roundtrip from Brighton to the Combined Fire Authorities conference in October.

Wyboston Lakes told The Argus an overnight “leisure” stay with dinner in October would cost £2,100 for 18 people – not including the cost of hosting a conference and travel.

Nancy Platts, Labour Parliamentary candidate for Brighton Kemptown and Peacehaven, said: “It is clearly outrageous that taxpayer’s money can be spent like this at a time when front line services are being cut.

“The views of thousands of local people were recently ignored by the majority of fire authority members who voted for the cuts to our fire service. Those same councillors now seem set to enjoy a luxury night away at the taxpayer's expense.

“I call on councillors from other political parties not to attend this event and instead work out how they can save frontline fire services in Brighton and Hove.”

Ms Platts said the authority’s labour councillors had already declined the invitation.

Simon Herbert, chairman of the East Sussex Fire Brigades Union, said other councillors should follow suit.

He said:“It’s rather concerning when at a time when they’re trying to balance their books they think they can afford day and nights out for fire authority members at a golf and spa resort.

“I’ve also never heard of a Combined Fire Authorities conference before, I don’t know what it is.

“You have to cut your cloth accordingly. If something needs to go to save cash, days out on potential jollies and conferences should be the first to go.”

A spokeswoman for the East Sussex Fire Authority said the conference was an opportunity for councillors to meet with national colleagues, adding: “It is a matter for each politi- cal party on the fire authority to decide on their attendance and if they do attend, if they will stay overnight at the venue."

Comments (6)

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11:40pm Sun 29 Jun 14

Motorcyclist says...

Disgusting. Des Prichard and his cronies with their snouts in the trough again at our expense. This man should go and he should go now.
Disgusting. Des Prichard and his cronies with their snouts in the trough again at our expense. This man should go and he should go now. Motorcyclist
  • Score: 17

7:50am Mon 30 Jun 14

monkeymoo says...

Motorcyclist wrote:
Disgusting. Des Prichard and his cronies with their snouts in the trough again at our expense. This man should go and he should go now.
This is just one little 'jolly' that these councilors are going on......
....How many others do they attend at our expense!?

The council spokeswoman claims that this is a good opportunity to meet national colleagues.
In this modern world, cannot this be done by telephone, conference call, or web cam!?

We are all in it together!?
HA!
[quote][p][bold]Motorcyclist[/bold] wrote: Disgusting. Des Prichard and his cronies with their snouts in the trough again at our expense. This man should go and he should go now.[/p][/quote]This is just one little 'jolly' that these councilors are going on...... ....How many others do they attend at our expense!? The council spokeswoman claims that this is a good opportunity to meet national colleagues. In this modern world, cannot this be done by telephone, conference call, or web cam!? We are all in it together!? HA! monkeymoo
  • Score: 13

7:53am Mon 30 Jun 14

still waiting says...

Curious, isn't it, how there seems to be in inextricable link between public authorities and the need to have conferences with lots of delegates at interesting places? I see that one of the first things the new Police & Crime Commissioners did was to set up a new Association; doubtless big conferences will follow. But as far as the Fire Authority are concerned it is those who are supposed to hold the Chief Fire Officer to account who are the beneficiaries of the largesse. But, I'm a simple soul and I don't expect this would be considered a conflict of interest. (I also firmly believe that the Earth is flat and the moon made of green cheese). Presumably this is such a good idea that those charged with overseeing West Sussex Fire & Rescue are also to be offered a couple of days away at taxpayers' expense?
Curious, isn't it, how there seems to be in inextricable link between public authorities and the need to have conferences with lots of delegates at interesting places? I see that one of the first things the new Police & Crime Commissioners did was to set up a new Association; doubtless big conferences will follow. But as far as the Fire Authority are concerned it is those who are supposed to hold the Chief Fire Officer to account who are the beneficiaries of the largesse. But, I'm a simple soul and I don't expect this would be considered a conflict of interest. (I also firmly believe that the Earth is flat and the moon made of green cheese). Presumably this is such a good idea that those charged with overseeing West Sussex Fire & Rescue are also to be offered a couple of days away at taxpayers' expense? still waiting
  • Score: 9

10:28am Mon 30 Jun 14

Bluebeef says...

Don't you think it's quite a good idea that networking should take place at a national level?
If you had any understanding of how life for real people in real ' industries' worked you would know how crucial these sorts of things are: e conferencing just doesn't allow for decent interpersonal communication..
Buckinghamshire seems to be a sensible national central point and £115 per night for accommodation and dinner etc is hardly the gravy train.
Ask trade union conferences etc. how much they spend and why they travel all over the country to..................
........ Brighton
Don't you think it's quite a good idea that networking should take place at a national level? If you had any understanding of how life for real people in real ' industries' worked you would know how crucial these sorts of things are: e conferencing just doesn't allow for decent interpersonal communication.. Buckinghamshire seems to be a sensible national central point and £115 per night for accommodation and dinner etc is hardly the gravy train. Ask trade union conferences etc. how much they spend and why they travel all over the country to.................. ........ Brighton Bluebeef
  • Score: -6

11:45am Mon 30 Jun 14

getThisCoalitionOut says...

You notice it's at a golf resort. That says it all. Is this to get councillors to give them more money next time round? Sounds like pigs in trough to me. No way should this be paid for with OUR money.
You notice it's at a golf resort. That says it all. Is this to get councillors to give them more money next time round? Sounds like pigs in trough to me. No way should this be paid for with OUR money. getThisCoalitionOut
  • Score: 6

11:46am Mon 30 Jun 14

getThisCoalitionOut says...

ARGUS - WHAT A STUPID HEADLINE TITLE what has a sweet dessert got to do with this?
ARGUS - WHAT A STUPID HEADLINE TITLE what has a sweet dessert got to do with this? getThisCoalitionOut
  • Score: -5

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