Cllr Cathy Kent’s press release in respect of the recent Fire Authority Cultural Review

Following the release of a report by Irene Lucas into the culture of the Essex County Fire and Rescue Service, Cllr Cathy Kent, a Thurrock representative, and Labour lead, on Essex Fire Authority, said:

I would like to put on record my thanks to Irene Lucas for the hard work she has put in to this report.

Nobody reading it can fail to be aware that action needs to be taken … and now.

That is why I also appreciate the comments of, both, the authority’s chair and Acting Chief Fire Officer that they too welcome the report, although I would have preferred it if they simply accepted the recommendations here and now, rather than saying they need to “examine it in detail”.

I can assure everyone that myself and my Labour colleagues will be unstinting in maintaining pressure of the Essex Fire and Rescue Service and the Fire Authority to ensure these recommendations are acted upon rapidly.

It is no good to say – “we need to study in detail” – that’s what the report was for and that is what Ms Lucas did.

Her report states that what she found “creates a danger to individuals, equipment and property” which “may in turn put the communities of Essex at risk”.

It says this bullying intimidating culture “pervades the culture in ECFRS from the bottom to the top” and that there is a culture of fear.

Since my appointment to the Fire Authority in 2009 I have spoken to many dedicated fire fighters who have raised concerns with me. In turn I have, consistently raised these issues and asked why it is that people appeared afraid to speak out, and why nothing has been done to change the culture.

This is our chance to put things right. Ms Lucas accepts that things are improving – albeit slowly – and that many people want to move on against the “very small, malignant minority”.

Delaying the approval of these recommendations by even one day puts at risk the best opportunity we have to provide the service the people of Essex deserve.

Let’s not waste it. The time to act is now.