First published by the Chichester Observer here
Candidates to be West Sussex’s new chief fire officer do not need to have fire service experience to be considered for the role.
The current head of West Sussex Fire and Rescue Gavin Watts announced his decision last month to retire after 29 years in service.
West Sussex County Council is recruiting for his successor, but its job advert has been criticised for saying that ‘fire service experience would be helpful, it is not essential for this leadership role’.
It explains: “What will be key is a strong focus on outcomes, with the ability to drive performance in a large operational business.”
Kevin Hughes, leader of the Labour group at Chichester District Council, said: “This advert exemplifies the Tory approach of sidelining people with relevant knowledge and experience when considering management of vital services.
“We need to move away from running public services from a purely managerial point of view to ensuring they are run by those who know the challenges of running them and the needs of communities.
“The public good must always be the guiding principal when making such appointments rather than the Tories’ damaging obsession with the bottom line.”
Consultants GatenbySanderson have been employed to handle the recruitment process.
A spokesman for the county council said: “In order to recruit the best person for this important, strategic role within the council, it is standard practice to employ a specialist agency to make sure we reach a wide field of potential candidates.
“It’s imperative that we recruit a high-performing leader with relevant skills and experience, and we will consider each candidate on his or her merits.
“We look forward to recruiting a new chief fire officer to continue to deliver a service that’s committed to keeping the residents of West Sussex safe.”
The advert says: “You will be given the autonomy needed to transform our fire & rescue services to provide the best outcomes for our residents. Working with our emergency services partnerships you will shape and develop opportunities within and across our partnership borders.
“Fire service experience would be helpful, it is not essential for this leadership role. What will be key is a strong focus on outcomes, with the ability to drive performance in a large operational business.”