Dumb and Dumber do it again?




Surrey’s chief fire officer Russell Pearson, a man who wears his honours for “dedicated service to the emergency services” with pride has been thrown out of the service after resisting budget cuts.

That’s the claim of Fire Brigade Union’s after the highly respected chief officer who was featured in this year’s New Year’s Honours was ousted, just seven months later,  from his job! Why? Because he warned that reducing fire cover would leave the county’s Fire & Rescue Services unable to protect US, the public.

Well done Dumb – you never let us down – you prefer to fritter away over £50m of Surrey taxpayer’s money on an unpopular retail development in Farnham that commercial backers wouldn’t touch with a bargepole – to compromise our safety wouldn’t you?

Perhaps you haven’t heard Dumber that more than 30,000 store chains in this country are in crisis? Facing such financial stress meaning many more businesses will follow the wave of store closures that are sweeping through our towns and cities – including wealthy Surrey! The very same stores in which you invested OUR money, preferring instead to put our lives at risk?

Recently you asked Surrey residents what their priorities were: We here at the Waverley Web believe – keeping us safe – is a  top priority along with caring for the elderly and vulnerable children. 

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Mr Pearson joined SFRS in 1992 and has served as the county’s chief fire officer since 2007.

The FBU released a statement saying that Mr Pearson will no longer hold his 11-year position and the union fears he was “ousted” due to his stance on further service savings.

A Surrey County Council (SCC) spokesman said in response: “We cannot comment on speculation about individuals.”

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Funding cuts

“I am in no doubt that the only reason SCC would replace Russell Pearson is so they can get someone in to do a hatchet job, solely to make cuts without any regard to public or firefighter safety,” claims Richard Jones, executive council member for the FBU for the south-east.

“With emergency response times in Surrey at their slowest since 1996, the number of fires we attend and rescues we make increasing year on year since 2015, further cuts are absolutely absurd and show SCC is  prioritising monetary savings ahead of public safety.”

In June last year firefighters and union members declared a motion of no confidence and one year on, this motion is still in place.

The FBU says that since 2010 more than £20 million has been saved from SFRS budget, and an additional £661,000 is expected to be saved this year alone.

According to SCC’s Medium Term Financial Plan, savings of £4.075 million and £1.8 million are expected in 2019 and 2020 respectively.

According to the FBU chairman Lee Belsten the service is now “dangerously close to the mark” and its frontline response and emergency control resources will be “decimated” if funding cuts continue.

He argued that staff shortages, as well as reduced resources, means all of Surrey’s fire stations are currently below 20 firefighters, response time remains up to 10% under target, on-call crew are 40% deficient and emergency control staff are up to 50% short.

Overall, the number of firefighters in Surrey have plummeted by 40%, claimed the FBU, resulting in numerous fire appliances being left unavailable in times of emergency because there are not enough firefighters to crew them.

However, a SCC spokesman says: “we have carried out a recruitment campaign and are making a significant investment to our new fire stations, equipment and vehicles to meet the needs of a modern fire service”.

Surrey is now the county with the lowest number of fire service staff per headcount of population

‘Fire service on its knees’

Following the FBU statement on Mr Pearson, an anonymous firefighter said Russell has been doing an amazing job fighting the cuts, there’s the suspicion that because he is not willing to support the cuts that’s one reason he’s been pushed to the side.

“He’s the right man for the job, he’s passionate about the fire service and doesn’t want to see it get any smaller. The fire service is on its knees, if they bring in any more cuts it will be a case of which station will they close next.

“They are relying on the goodwill of firefighters to come in on their days off. We don’t want the public thinking that we are letting them down, we just don’t have the resources.”

Another firefighter, who also did not wish to give their name, said:“I think the whole thing is disgusting, Russell has done nothing but work hard for the fire service.“If they’ve got rid of him because he doesn’t do what they want him to do, then that seems like an awful way to do things. He’s been pushing back against the cuts and, speaking from the front line, there’s nothing more that the fire service can give.”

17 thoughts on “Dumb and Dumber do it again?”

  1. Absolutely Shocking – What the hell are we paying Huge Council Tax bills for? If we cannot pay for services like Health, Fire, Police, Education then someone needs their BUTT kicking. Our Road infrastructure is appalling as mentioned in your earlier post – Maybe they all need to stop putting Squillions into Property Portfolios as a future Backstop and start spending where it is needed NOW

  2. Well said Denise, when will these people get their priorities right? This is happening in the wealthiest county in the country where residents pay a higher than the normal amount for their own healthcare, education and housing .as well as supporting the voluntary sector.

  3. Surrey CC have a statutory duty of care to the Surrey residents for which they must publish a risk assessment for any fire service cuts that they have proposed. Hopefully, Surrey CC have ensured the safety competence of those advising on these cuts, a statutory obligation upheld by the European Court of Justice. Surrey CC contingency arrangements must includes contingency arrangements for a one of the many low flying aircraft flying over Farnham crashing on Farnham, a horrendous consequence.

    One hopes Surrey police has the retained the competence to prosecute anyone responsible for any gross negligence. Conversely Grenfell Tower confirmed Local Authorities currently consider themselves above the Rule of Law

  4. But Local Authorities ARE above the rule of law, or rather the Councillors are. No sanction available against our democratically elected representatives (except the ballot box and that’s a very blunt instrument) and if a prosecution of the body corporate succeeds then the financial penalty is paid by us the taxpayers.

    1. But one day, as will soon be the case with Kensington & Chelsea Council, the chickens will come home to roost – and we are all pinning our hopes that this time it will not be the council taxpayer, but the individuals/councillors/ who have let their residents down.

      1. Funny you mention Kensington and Chelsea… their former Director of Planning and Development, and the man that signed off Grenfell Tower re-cladding, was Jonathon Bore… who we all know as the Planning Inspector of the WBC Local Plan… the one now subject of a court case.

      2. Actually I’m deadly serious – I don’t think that when the chickens come home to roost there will be anyway of holding individual Councillors to account. I’m blessed with advancing years and a long Local Government memory and I know that it used to be the case that but individuals could be surcharged to recover Taxpayers’ money. And this was the sanction pursued against the late Dame Shirley Porter when she squandered millions of the City of Westminster’s funds. The law was subsequently changed to remove surcharging in case it put people off becoming Councillors….

    2. But we have to step up to that ballot box, and show our displeasure with this Tory-dominated administration and let it be soon! But is it too late for towns like ours in Farnham?
      Last night the Berkeley Woolmead scheme was approved for 138 dwellings without ONE SINGLE affordable home! And contains one bedroom flats that are smaller than the minimum home standards why – because EXPERTS employed by WBC said the scheme was unviable for a.h’s because the developers would only be able to achieve a profit of 21.5%! So let the Berkeley Bunnies begin burrowing through Farnham.

  5. Well we have the chance next year.

    I have no faith in “Experts” deployed by the Planners – Many are in the pay of the Developers I am afraid they are there to push Planning forward and not look at the consequences of their actions – They don’t have to live with them so why bother?

    1. I agree, when WBC Planners don’t have experience (and let’s be clear here, the head of Planning has not had a job other than in WBC Planning) then they bring in consultants… who will be working to a brief and agenda.

      Let’s also be clear that “Affordable” means 20% below market rates… and in Surrey that does not make any new affordable house within the affordable range unless you have a significant joint salary (>£100kpa) to qualify for the mortgage required.

      Let us also remember that WBC talk about 30% of homes in a development being affordable but WBCs record is closer to 19% on some developments. Where’s the enforcement of that? Hell, affordable is often the only reason developments get passed.

      Let’s also re-iterate WW’s point about developers pleading poverty to get the affordable % down…. WBC are a walk-over as they don’t have the skill to argue against the developer’s deluge of estimates of profitability. Mark my words, Dunsfold Park will try that one on as they are already saying their £1.14billion of houses doesn’t give them enough profit to pay even for the very paltry one-off CIL (the CIL does not apply for additional homes they build in future, so once they’ve built a couple of roundabouts and new traffic lights that’ll all be spent).

      PS. WW where’s the DP CIL hearing article? It is a week since you attended the hearing.

  6. Hi PP
    I agree Developers pleading poverty is pathetic and it is done all the time with changes to House Size/Room size and number of smaller housing – What they are doing is reducing the number of 4 beds – and why do we think that is??? Well because why would any Wealthy-ish London-ite want to buy a 4 bed property in a Village/Town like Cranleigh – that despite it being a beautiful Village has limited transport links and is slowly turning into a building site…

    Why didn’t anyone think that the knock- on effect of so much development in One area would make it – frankly un-saleable?? – Watch this space – this will affect DP as well as all the other developers who in their greed didn’t pay attention to what was happening on their Doorstep – They will have to sell fast to make these properties viable and will no doubt cut corners in doing so, I feel for Cranleigh and all of our villages that will have to deal with this appalling mess. Shame on WBC and the Planners for not having the foresight to see this was a mess and not having the ability to see the Long view

  7. Ww. What are you on about? I stated facts. https://www.midsussextimes.co.uk/news/politics/planning-inspector-signed-off-grenfell-tower-refurbishment-1-8031877

    However you have evaded all earlier questions including about the critical CIL hearing that you attended. – do the facts not fit your master’s agenda?. And now you deny you were at the hearing. So what can we believe in anything you write? Do I have to prove you were there? Or would outing embarrass your organisation?

  8. As we have said before, what is it about the fact that THE WAVERLEY WEB DID NOT ATTEND THE HEARING, that you do not understand? You don’t have to believe anything we write and you can stop using this site whenever you like – your choice. You can Out whoever you like but please be very careful. If you make erroneous defamatory statements about any individual or organisation on this site we will remove all your past and future comments. Do you understand​? Waverley Web

    1. Avoidance again – have I got too close to the truth? So WW, are you happy that you continue to defame and abuse Bob Lees and many others repeatedly and without substance on your blog?

      1. Avoidance again PP. If you were at the Inquiry of which you speak. You tell us all about it. So we can join Happy Hour!
        We very much doubt you know what the word truth means? WW told the truth! – We were not at the Inquiry of which you speak. Get it! We have not defamed anyone – merely told the truth it is POW with which you are no doubt closely associated that has continuously lied and which will not accept that the aerodrome is a brownfield site. But you are now on your last warning PP – you will soon be a chipolata!

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