Leading from the top

Kevin Pearson, chief fire officer of the Avon Fire and Rescue Service, made news headlines in the South-West by volunteering a pay cut of 22%. From 1 April, his salary will be cut by £37,000 to £130,097. As a senior public services manager, he was faced with finding budget cuts of £2.6 million and decided to start with his own pay.

‘I promised to start at the top and that was not rhetoric,’ he said in a report to the Avon Fire Authority. ‘The wages of all public sector managers have been the subject of considerable debate in recent months. Avon Fire Authority has taken this decision so that we can continue to provide a first class emergency service to the public.’

Said the Chairman of Avon Fire Authority: ‘Without question, making savings in management salaries will lessen the impact in other areas of the organisation.’ The Fire Brigades Union, facing budget cuts of 9%, was equally impressed, saying ‘If it saves one fire-fighter that’s a good thing.’

For all those other senior public sector managers on wages over £100,000 baffled by Mr Pearson’s action, it’s called ‘leading from the top.’

Now perhaps, we could see the same style of leadership taken up by council chief executives in the South-West, who could easily afford self-imposed pay cuts of at least 20%?  Among them, the bosses of Bath and North East Somerset earning £211,626, Bristol on £220,457, and Cornwall on £238,800. If these council leaders stepped up to the challenge set by Mr Pearson, it would make it a little easier for council taxpayers in these regions to put up with cuts in their frontline services. So, come on, show real leadership for a change!

Tim Newark, Bath and South-West Taxpayers’ Alliance

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