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Avon Fire and Rescue 'failed to probe concerns'

Fire engine Image copyright Thinkstock
Image caption Avon Fire Authority is the body which oversees the running of Avon Fire and Rescue Service

A fire authority repeatedly refused to start an investigation into allegations over the way it was being run, the fire service minister has said.

Brandon Lewis said he asked Avon Fire Authority to commission an independent inquiry into the claims, which the authority refutes, on at least two separate occasions last year.

The government has since ordered its own investigation.

The authority said its chairman will make a statement at its next meeting.

A spokesman said: "The fire authority will not be making a comment today, but the chairman will be making a statement at the next meeting of Avon Fire Authority on Friday 10 February."

'Unusual circumstances'

The allegations over the fire authority, which oversees the fire and rescue service, have not been detailed, but have been described as "serious and persistent" by the Home Office.

Three senior officers left the authority in five years under "unusual circumstances". The BBC also uncovered evidence of infighting.

But the fire service chief, Kevin Pearson has maintained the allegations as "old and unfounded".

Mr Lewis said the complaints, if well-founded "would indicate that the authority was failing in its duty to make arrangements to secure continuous improvement".

Independent consultant Dr Craig Baker will lead the statutory inspection. He has advised public sector organisations for over 30 years in the UK and overseas.

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