Fire chief defends �190,000 salary package as the price Cambs pays for success

FIRE chief Graham Stagg claims his �190,000 a year salary and the high salaries paid to three colleagues is the price Cambridgeshire is prepared to pay for success.

“Cambridgeshire Fire and Rescue Service measured against the head of population is the cheapest fire and rescue service in the country,” he said.

“No-one in the country pays less for its fire and rescue service than the taxpayers of Cambridgeshire.

“We’ve got a very good fire service, and everyone should take credit for that who works in Cambridgeshire Fire and Rescue Service. We’ve got a great cost for running that fire and rescue service, and that’s a very good outcome for the taxpayers of Cambridgeshire and Peterborough.”

Mr Stagg said the salary levels quoted by MP Stephen Barclay “include all the on-costs of pension, national insurance etcetera. So they’re not quite as profligate as people would make out.”

He told Paul Stainton on the BBC Cambridgeshire breakfast show: “We’ve been independently reviewed by chief fire officers from around the country, and also by the Audit Commission, who both said that we perform exceptionally well.”

Asked if he was worth more than the �133,000 paid to Cambridgeshire’s chief constable he said he would not get into a discussion how much each is paid.

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“We’re employed by different people,” he said. “We were recruited in different ways, and we come from different areas. So I think they’re quite arbitrary benchmarks.

“I think the thing we need to be looking at is, are we rewarded for failure, or for success. Now I can understand why people focus on salaries, and get upset if they feel that chief executives and their directors are being paid for running failing services. “But we’re not. We’re being rewarded for success. And we’re performance managed well by the Fire Authority, who sets these packages to attract and retain quality people.”

Mr Stagg said he was meeting Cambridgeshire MPs about future Government grants and “the real risk” that fire authorities such as his might get less income.