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Fire authority denies claims of secrecy

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The Berkshire authority refuted secrecy claims, saying all non commercially sensitive issues were discussed openly

THE Royal Berkshire Fire Authority (RBFA) has refuted allegations by the Fire Brigades Union that it is conducting business behind closed doors.

The union claimed earlier today (Wednesday) that the fire authority was conducting an increased range of business decisions behind closed doors.

At a meeting of the Fire Authority Management Committee on Monday, the union questioned why several issues of public interest were subject to the exclusion of the public.

The chairman of Berkshire's FBU, Maurice Whyte, said: "We appear to be entering a regime of secrecy, which greatly concerns the FBU - the fire service is a public service and should be held publicly accountable. Any restructure of the Brigade will inevitably alter the way it functions and the public have a right to know how this will affect them."

But chief fire officer Ian Cox said: "The reason that any agenda items are placed in the Part II (not open to the public) section of a meeting relates to their confidential nature.

"This is not an attempt to conceal what members and officers are doing, but is because these issues relate to individual, commercial or legal matters that may not be disclosed to the public.

“We default to putting items into Part I and only assign an agenda item to the second part of the meeting where required.

"An example of this is the discussion around bids for the site of Cookham fire station as this included details of individual bids and financial information."

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