We made errors over chief's £3,000 back op cash, admits fire authority chairman

We made errors over chief's £3,000 back op cash, admits fire authority chairman

Councillor Derek Prodger, chairman of the fire authority

Chief fire officer Mark Yates

First published in News
Last updated
Bromsgrove Advertiser: Tom Edwards by , Political Reporter

THE county's fire authority chairman has admitted mistakes were made over paying his chief officer £3,000 towards private back surgery - and has conceded he was not open or transparent enough.

Councillor Derek Prodger, who has been fiercely criticised for agreeing Mark Yates' payout behind closed doors, says "in hindsight" it was the wrong way to do it.

Speaking to angry councillors yesterday, he said if a similar request ever happens again he would be prepared to put it in front of fire authority members for a vote at an open meeting.

It came as Mr Yates made his first public appearance since the saga was first revealed in your Worcester News.

The chief fire officer, who earns £122,000 a year, refused to talk to the press about his back operation but Cllr Prodger, who signed it off, said lessons need to be learned.

During the debate councillors said the furore had "damaged the reputation" of the fire authority.

Speaking to the fire authority's police and resources committee, Cllr Prodger said: "In hindsight, perhaps it would have been wiser to record the decision and have it on the agenda today.

"It may be that if we ever have a request like it again, in the future we'll send it to the policy and resources committee instead."

Cllr Alan Amos, a fellow fire authority member, said: "There is an issue here, let's discuss it instead of covering it up.

"The fact the decision was made without people knowing about it has done real damage to the fire authority, I've been berated about it by the public when it's got nothing to do with me at all - we need some kind of a mechanism to avoid it happening again."

Cllr Prodger later said: "We should put decisions like this in front of more members, so more people are involved in it and not just group leaders."

As your Worcester News revealed on Monday, Cllr Prodger agreed it during a private meeting with three political group leaders back in October.

The session was not minuted, nor was the 25-member fire authority told about the payment.

Mr Yates decided to have a private back operation after being told an NHS one had a 12-week waiting list.

By the time of the pay-off decision the operation, which cost £5,090 in total, was already complete and he was back at work.

Mr Yates claimed the full amount but the small group of four councillors voted 3-1 in favour of giving him a 'partial payment'.

Cllr Prodger told the meeting he still thought it was "the right thing to do" to give him the cash.

The fire service says Mr Yates could have been off work for up to 12 weeks if he waited on the NHS, in which case it could have cost £8,500 in paying other staff to cover his duties.

MARK YATES REFUSES TO TALK - AS MORE DETAILS ON THE CASH EMERGE

MARK Yates refused to talk to your Worcester News yesterday - saying it was "inappropriate" to answer any questions.

The chief fire officer dodged attempts from the press to discuss the back operation, by saying fire authority chairman Councillor Derek Prodger had already defended the payout.

More details emerged around it yesterday, after councillors challenged staff about what pot of cash the money had come from.

Treasurer Martin Reohorn revealed a £10,000 cash kitty is stashed away for "this kind of spend" from the fire service's occupational health budget.

Under fierce questioning from Councillor Alan Amos, officers said it was the first time it had been dipped into in the current financial year.

Nigel Snape, a legal adviser, said: "There is no defined procedure for dealing with a matter like this, you have to be pragmatic about it.

"Clearly, it wasn't appropriate to be discussed by officers so it went to the chairman (Cllr Prodger) who decided to run it through group leaders, it was entirely appropriate."

He also confirmed he had a written record of the decision and the four people involved in making it, and that it will be recorded in the accounts as a 'benefit in kind'.

Independent Councillor David Taylor, the only one of the four to still deny any involvement in the decision despite his name being confirmed by the fire service, was at the meeting yesterday.

When challenged again by your Worcester News, he said: "My memory isn't as good as it used to be - but when I deal with confidential things like this, I tend to forget about it anyway."

Councillor Richard Udall, meanwhile, said he wants a fresh report to look into the powers available to Cllr Prodger and the authority's constitution.

He said: "Where we go in the future is very important - this is a governance issue.

"Let's move on and make sure it doesn't happen again in the future."

Mr Snape said he was prepared to take any suggested changes on board.

Comments (23)

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2:47pm Thu 27 Mar 14

jb says...

Only when this issue was made public has Mr Prodger admitted it was the wrong thing to do. Paying £3k for private medical treatment for someone on such a large salary already was very wrong so how come that never occurred to Mr Prodger and the other three members at the time? This is proof that they are not fit to make decisions. I wonder how many more decisions have been made behind closed doors which ''with hindsight" they may regret? As for Mr Yates refusing to comment to WN that's so arrogant its unbelievable.

Independent Councillor David Taylor, the only one of the four to still deny any involvement in the decision despite his name being confirmed by the fire service, was at the meeting yesterday.

When challenged again by your Worcester News, he said: "My memory isn't as good as it used to be - but when I deal with confidential things like this, I tend to forget about it anyway."....... Hush hush, wink wink, say no more attitude!
Only when this issue was made public has Mr Prodger admitted it was the wrong thing to do. Paying £3k for private medical treatment for someone on such a large salary already was very wrong so how come that never occurred to Mr Prodger and the other three members at the time? This is proof that they are not fit to make decisions. I wonder how many more decisions have been made behind closed doors which ''with hindsight" they may regret? As for Mr Yates refusing to comment to WN that's so arrogant its unbelievable. Independent Councillor David Taylor, the only one of the four to still deny any involvement in the decision despite his name being confirmed by the fire service, was at the meeting yesterday. When challenged again by your Worcester News, he said: "My memory isn't as good as it used to be - but when I deal with confidential things like this, I tend to forget about it anyway."....... Hush hush, wink wink, say no more attitude! jb
  • Score: 35

3:12pm Thu 27 Mar 14

CJH says...

Amazing how people say 'with hindsight' only after they've been found out. Bedwardine electorate please do the right thing next elections!
Amazing how people say 'with hindsight' only after they've been found out. Bedwardine electorate please do the right thing next elections! CJH
  • Score: 32

4:22pm Thu 27 Mar 14

brooksider says...

In this sorry tale, we have 'legal advisor' Nigel Snape not being transparent.

The Fire Authority's own rules state
The Authority is responsible for ensuring its business to be conducted in accordance to the law and proper standards.

Derek Prodger's secret meetings are not 'proper standards' and the fact that he held an unminuted meeting to allocate public funds shows that he has fallen short of both Fire Authority rules and the Councillor Code of Conduct.
In this sorry tale, we have 'legal advisor' Nigel Snape not being transparent. The Fire Authority's own rules state The Authority is responsible for ensuring its business to be conducted in accordance to the law and proper standards. Derek Prodger's secret meetings are not 'proper standards' and the fact that he held an unminuted meeting to allocate public funds shows that he has fallen short of both Fire Authority rules and the Councillor Code of Conduct. brooksider
  • Score: 28

5:44pm Thu 27 Mar 14

b1ackb1rd says...

Surely with such gross failings there needs to be an audit of other decisions?
Surely with such gross failings there needs to be an audit of other decisions? b1ackb1rd
  • Score: 28

5:55pm Thu 27 Mar 14

Paulineknowles says...

Mr. Yates should be ashamed to ask for this money. With his income he should be able to either afford private medical insurance or to payfor the operation himself.
Mr. Yates should be ashamed to ask for this money. With his income he should be able to either afford private medical insurance or to payfor the operation himself. Paulineknowles
  • Score: 20

6:13pm Thu 27 Mar 14

Real Facts says...

The very simple fact of the matter is that the Chief Fire Officer earns £122,000 a year.
He can afford private treatment.
It is NOT appropriate for him to make a claim like this and it is also not in his contract.
It is ESPECIALLY INAPPROPRIATE when Hereford and Worcester are facing £4.7 million in cuts.
It gives the wrong signal.
It insults the taxpayers of Hereford and Worcester.
It insults the Firefighters of Hereford and Worcester.
There are Firefighters in this service who are quite possibly going to lose their jobs while he claims his monies.

I have no faith in the ability of this man to be the "Architect of the cuts" in Hereford and Worcester Fire and Rescue Service.
As far as I am concerned he has lost all credibility.
The politicians who granted this payout have lost all credibility.

There should be a public enquiry into this business.

The previous Chief Fire Officer was allowed to retire early and we lost a very good Deputy Chief under dubious "Circumstances!"

Transparent?
I don't think so.
The very simple fact of the matter is that the Chief Fire Officer earns £122,000 a year. He can afford private treatment. It is NOT appropriate for him to make a claim like this and it is also not in his contract. It is ESPECIALLY INAPPROPRIATE when Hereford and Worcester are facing £4.7 million in cuts. It gives the wrong signal. It insults the taxpayers of Hereford and Worcester. It insults the Firefighters of Hereford and Worcester. There are Firefighters in this service who are quite possibly going to lose their jobs while he claims his monies. I have no faith in the ability of this man to be the "Architect of the cuts" in Hereford and Worcester Fire and Rescue Service. As far as I am concerned he has lost all credibility. The politicians who granted this payout have lost all credibility. There should be a public enquiry into this business. The previous Chief Fire Officer was allowed to retire early and we lost a very good Deputy Chief under dubious "Circumstances!" Transparent? I don't think so. Real Facts
  • Score: 34

6:18pm Thu 27 Mar 14

markskoda says...

Cllr. Udall says "Let's move on" etc. I quite agree. Let's move on to the repayment of the money by Mark Yates.
Cllr. Udall says "Let's move on" etc. I quite agree. Let's move on to the repayment of the money by Mark Yates. markskoda
  • Score: 30

6:30pm Thu 27 Mar 14

Doogie 46 says...

"Let`s move on...." - ie. "We`ve been caught out, let`s get it out of the public domain and bury it ASAP..."
"Let`s move on...." - ie. "We`ve been caught out, let`s get it out of the public domain and bury it ASAP..." Doogie 46
  • Score: 19

7:54pm Thu 27 Mar 14

alanquattro says...

A pack of lies. The money needs to be returned with interest and the service audited. The CFO should resign or be sacked. The Fire Authority members should be barred from future public service forthwith.
A pack of lies. The money needs to be returned with interest and the service audited. The CFO should resign or be sacked. The Fire Authority members should be barred from future public service forthwith. alanquattro
  • Score: 25

8:04pm Thu 27 Mar 14

mrwrighty says...

This is probably one of many many behind the scenes payments to people in public office. We are suffering major front line cuts but of course this in charge do not see it because I'm alright jack, its not out money. They are rotten to the core, I cannot trust one of them to provide the services which they are paid for. They certainly do not have the electorates interests at heart.
This is probably one of many many behind the scenes payments to people in public office. We are suffering major front line cuts but of course this in charge do not see it because I'm alright jack, its not out money. They are rotten to the core, I cannot trust one of them to provide the services which they are paid for. They certainly do not have the electorates interests at heart. mrwrighty
  • Score: 22

10:25pm Thu 27 Mar 14

Doesitmakesense?? says...

To maintain any credibility Mark Yates should repay the money - he can afford it as he already paid for it. These councillors have many years experience and should know better than to conduct themselves in this underhand way.
To maintain any credibility Mark Yates should repay the money - he can afford it as he already paid for it. These councillors have many years experience and should know better than to conduct themselves in this underhand way. Doesitmakesense??
  • Score: 16

8:28am Fri 28 Mar 14

Bingo Little says...

I expect the Fire Brigades Union will now be compiling a list of it's members in the H &W F&RS who are on NHS waiting lists for various operations, to present to Uncle Derek and his committee.
Good for the goose etc !!
I expect the Fire Brigades Union will now be compiling a list of it's members in the H &W F&RS who are on NHS waiting lists for various operations, to present to Uncle Derek and his committee. Good for the goose etc !! Bingo Little
  • Score: 15

8:39am Fri 28 Mar 14

green49 says...

Its typical of what happens in this country, the County council are at it with decisions made behind closed doors on cuts,
As for this farce? they got gaught out, Yates should repay the money or the ones who made the decision should? its doesnt belong to them and as usual the taxpayer will end up the loser, Prodger s record of disasters continues, as for David Taylor 'When challenged again by your Worcester News, he said: "My memory isn't as good as it used to be - but when I deal with confidential things like this, I tend to forget about it anyway."
Should he be in a job he cant even remember being at???
Its typical of what happens in this country, the County council are at it with decisions made behind closed doors on cuts, As for this farce? they got gaught out, Yates should repay the money or the ones who made the decision should? its doesnt belong to them and as usual the taxpayer will end up the loser, Prodger s record of disasters continues, as for David Taylor 'When challenged again by your Worcester News, he said: "My memory isn't as good as it used to be - but when I deal with confidential things like this, I tend to forget about it anyway." Should he be in a job he cant even remember being at??? green49
  • Score: 11

8:50am Fri 28 Mar 14

markskoda says...

Mark Yates could have paid this from the windfall reduction in higher rate tax kindly granted to him by George Osborne a few weeks ago. However he has to push for more.(£5000 more of which he was granted £3000) .Meanwhile an old lady who is near the end of her life worries about her "bedroom tax" and no amount of pleading that there is a special scheme to alleviate hardship cases will pacify her. Her niece visits her and stays in the second bedroom from time to time. Hang your heads in shame politicians and over promoted apparatchiks. Even those who sit "bravely" behind their desks.
Mark Yates could have paid this from the windfall reduction in higher rate tax kindly granted to him by George Osborne a few weeks ago. However he has to push for more.(£5000 more of which he was granted £3000) .Meanwhile an old lady who is near the end of her life worries about her "bedroom tax" and no amount of pleading that there is a special scheme to alleviate hardship cases will pacify her. Her niece visits her and stays in the second bedroom from time to time. Hang your heads in shame politicians and over promoted apparatchiks. Even those who sit "bravely" behind their desks. markskoda
  • Score: 11

8:59am Fri 28 Mar 14

skychip says...

How can a Committee member not remember if he was at the meeting or not. What sort of people are we voting for in elections. Still time will tell in May when it is the local elections.
How can a Committee member not remember if he was at the meeting or not. What sort of people are we voting for in elections. Still time will tell in May when it is the local elections. skychip
  • Score: 14

9:09am Fri 28 Mar 14

Real Facts says...

skychip wrote:
How can a Committee member not remember if he was at the meeting or not. What sort of people are we voting for in elections. Still time will tell in May when it is the local elections.
Id be more concerned over what sort of people are planning the cuts to the Fire Service because they don't know what else to do.
[quote][p][bold]skychip[/bold] wrote: How can a Committee member not remember if he was at the meeting or not. What sort of people are we voting for in elections. Still time will tell in May when it is the local elections.[/p][/quote]Id be more concerned over what sort of people are planning the cuts to the Fire Service because they don't know what else to do. Real Facts
  • Score: 8

10:51am Fri 28 Mar 14

saucerer says...

This is just a typical scenario among the public and unless we, the tax payer, become more vocal, bullish and forceful, these things will continue, whether it be the police, council, NHS or fire service.

We all need to start making a stand against these people in the public sector who are fleecing us all and treat us with total and utter contempt and with no respect, and we should not stop until these people are removed from office. It's all very well saying remember them when it comes to the next elections, but we need to do something now as it will not only send a message stating we won't tolerate such behaviour any more, but it will send a message to these people that they can no longer fleece us, treat us like sh*t and continue to ride on the gravy train, while they know they will fear for their positions if they keep stepping out of line. The public sector are an utter disgrace.

And am I the only one, upon seeing that photo of Prodger's smug look, feel an urge to punch him in the face?
This is just a typical scenario among the public and unless we, the tax payer, become more vocal, bullish and forceful, these things will continue, whether it be the police, council, NHS or fire service. We all need to start making a stand against these people in the public sector who are fleecing us all and treat us with total and utter contempt and with no respect, and we should not stop until these people are removed from office. It's all very well saying remember them when it comes to the next elections, but we need to do something now as it will not only send a message stating we won't tolerate such behaviour any more, but it will send a message to these people that they can no longer fleece us, treat us like sh*t and continue to ride on the gravy train, while they know they will fear for their positions if they keep stepping out of line. The public sector are an utter disgrace. And am I the only one, upon seeing that photo of Prodger's smug look, feel an urge to punch him in the face? saucerer
  • Score: 12

10:56am Fri 28 Mar 14

CJH says...

"And am I the only one, upon seeing that photo of Prodger's smug look, feel an urge to punch him in the face?" No you are not the only one, I was going to post a comment asking the WN if they had a photo where he wasn't smirking, but the last time I did something like that my comment was deleted. But there! I've done it now... ;-)
"And am I the only one, upon seeing that photo of Prodger's smug look, feel an urge to punch him in the face?" No you are not the only one, I was going to post a comment asking the WN if they had a photo where he wasn't smirking, but the last time I did something like that my comment was deleted. But there! I've done it now... ;-) CJH
  • Score: 13

11:31am Fri 28 Mar 14

IPDone says...

I have this morning just received my annual council tax bill for 2014/2015 and it clearly states that the worcester fire authority have increased their costs by
1.9%
What a disgrace, does this mean more under the counter payments and to fund fire service strikes.
Come on Mr. Yates you have been found out, pay the money back please it was not justified, it's the only way that you can move on from this madness and it's damaging the reputation of the fire authority.
Councillor Prodger has a lot to answer for, he should be made to make a statement regarding the part he played in this secret payment and what procedures the council are putting in place so that the tax payers have total transparency for any future dealing Councillor Prodger gets involved with in the future.
I have this morning just received my annual council tax bill for 2014/2015 and it clearly states that the worcester fire authority have increased their costs by 1.9% What a disgrace, does this mean more under the counter payments and to fund fire service strikes. Come on Mr. Yates you have been found out, pay the money back please it was not justified, it's the only way that you can move on from this madness and it's damaging the reputation of the fire authority. Councillor Prodger has a lot to answer for, he should be made to make a statement regarding the part he played in this secret payment and what procedures the council are putting in place so that the tax payers have total transparency for any future dealing Councillor Prodger gets involved with in the future. IPDone
  • Score: 10

12:12pm Fri 28 Mar 14

towyboy says...

I work for a charity in a fairly senior position on a third of the salary the Chief Fire Officer. I would never dream of approaching my employers to pay for an operation. It is my responsibility to remain as healthy as I can and my responsibility to ensure that if ill-health does happen then I am covered to get it sorted as quickly as possible at no cost to my employer. There are ethical, personal integrity and value judgements here. Come on Mr Yates - take some personal responsibility.
I work for a charity in a fairly senior position on a third of the salary the Chief Fire Officer. I would never dream of approaching my employers to pay for an operation. It is my responsibility to remain as healthy as I can and my responsibility to ensure that if ill-health does happen then I am covered to get it sorted as quickly as possible at no cost to my employer. There are ethical, personal integrity and value judgements here. Come on Mr Yates - take some personal responsibility. towyboy
  • Score: 11

3:11am Mon 31 Mar 14

Rooneybob says...

Real Facts wrote:
The very simple fact of the matter is that the Chief Fire Officer earns £122,000 a year.
He can afford private treatment.
It is NOT appropriate for him to make a claim like this and it is also not in his contract.
It is ESPECIALLY INAPPROPRIATE when Hereford and Worcester are facing £4.7 million in cuts.
It gives the wrong signal.
It insults the taxpayers of Hereford and Worcester.
It insults the Firefighters of Hereford and Worcester.
There are Firefighters in this service who are quite possibly going to lose their jobs while he claims his monies.

I have no faith in the ability of this man to be the "Architect of the cuts" in Hereford and Worcester Fire and Rescue Service.
As far as I am concerned he has lost all credibility.
The politicians who granted this payout have lost all credibility.

There should be a public enquiry into this business.

The previous Chief Fire Officer was allowed to retire early and we lost a very good Deputy Chief under dubious "Circumstances!"

Transparent?
I don't think so.
I wish I could give this comment more than 1 thumbs up. More BS from Prodger the Dodger. "It may be that if we ever have a request like it again, in the future we'll send it to the policy and resources committee instead.". Or it may be that we'll carry on as normal and cover it all up again... I can't even begin to work out how they thought what they did was "the right thing to do"
[quote][p][bold]Real Facts[/bold] wrote: The very simple fact of the matter is that the Chief Fire Officer earns £122,000 a year. He can afford private treatment. It is NOT appropriate for him to make a claim like this and it is also not in his contract. It is ESPECIALLY INAPPROPRIATE when Hereford and Worcester are facing £4.7 million in cuts. It gives the wrong signal. It insults the taxpayers of Hereford and Worcester. It insults the Firefighters of Hereford and Worcester. There are Firefighters in this service who are quite possibly going to lose their jobs while he claims his monies. I have no faith in the ability of this man to be the "Architect of the cuts" in Hereford and Worcester Fire and Rescue Service. As far as I am concerned he has lost all credibility. The politicians who granted this payout have lost all credibility. There should be a public enquiry into this business. The previous Chief Fire Officer was allowed to retire early and we lost a very good Deputy Chief under dubious "Circumstances!" Transparent? I don't think so.[/p][/quote]I wish I could give this comment more than 1 thumbs up. More BS from Prodger the Dodger. "It may be that if we ever have a request like it again, in the future we'll send it to the policy and resources committee instead.". Or it may be that we'll carry on as normal and cover it all up again... I can't even begin to work out how they thought what they did was "the right thing to do" Rooneybob
  • Score: 8

6:57pm Wed 2 Apr 14

DarrenM says...

No sense of decency left Derek? no sense at all?
No sense of decency left Derek? no sense at all? DarrenM
  • Score: 2

7:04pm Wed 2 Apr 14

Real Facts says...

DarrenM wrote:
No sense of decency left Derek? no sense at all?
As if.
He's a politician.
A Tory politician.


It's ALWAYS someone else's fault!
[quote][p][bold]DarrenM[/bold] wrote: No sense of decency left Derek? no sense at all?[/p][/quote]As if. He's a politician. A Tory politician. It's ALWAYS someone else's fault! Real Facts
  • Score: 2

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