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Essex fire brigade slammed as “toxic” by independent Cultural Review

02 September, 2015 - 10:22
Cultural Review published into ECFRS.

Cultural Review published into ECFRS.

Archant

This morning Irene Lucas has presented her independent Cultural Review into behaviour at Essex County Fire and Rescue Service to the brigade and public.

The report, commissioned by Essex Fire Authority, was not shared with the brigade in advance.

Mrs Lucas said there is “overwhelming evidence of bad behaviour through-out the organisation and none of the values are modelled consistently anywhere”.

She added: “Nobody in this organisation works as one team behind a common goal.”

Mrs Lucas said she had found evidence of psychological bullying, and said “this organisation is a toxic one. Its relationships are dysfunctional”.

She went on to say: “There is dangerous and pervasive bullying and intimidation at every level of the organisation.”

Work took place from March until August this year and included a staff survey with 459 responses, workshops, review of more than 200 documents and 1,033 emails.

Fire Brigade Union representatives made an “excellent contribution” up until they withdrew their support in June, Mrs Lucas said. Other unions were also involved.

Essex Fire Authority was also included in the review.

Authority chairman Tony Hedley said the recommendations would be seriously looked at and that the proposed 24-month time-scale should be shortened due to the seriousness of the report.

He added that doing nothing was not an option.

Acting Chief Fire Officer Adam Eckley said: “We welcome today’s publication of the review and we will not shy away from the findings and recommendations, however difficult that may be.”

Even the fire minister Mark Francois has become involved in the issue.

In a statement he said: “This report raises some very serious issues for Essex County Fire and Rescue Service and Authority.

“I have today written to the authority expressing my deep concern and expect to see a clear and robust action plan put in place to address them.

“We will be monitoring this situation very closely and reserve the right to intervene directly should we not be satisfied that improvements are happening quickly in the weeks ahead.”

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