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Derek Prodger facing no confidence motion

Evesham Journal: Councillor Derek Prodger, chairman of the fire authority Councillor Derek Prodger, chairman of the fire authority

THE chairman of the fire authority is facing a motion of no confidence at the next meeting of Worcestershire County Council, it has emerged.

Councillor Derek Prodger is battling for his career after County Hall's Labour group revealed it will ask all 56 politicians to vote, calling Mark Yates' back saga a "fiasco" which has "brought the fire authority into disrepute".

It comes as Cllr Prodger broke his silence over calls for him to resign, telling your Worcester News he has "done nothing untoward" and wants to carry on.

The motion will call for someone else to take charge as chairman, saying the fire service needs a "fresh start".

Councillor Peter McDonald, Labour group leader, said: "This whole thing has been a total fiasco, it's embarrassed everyone involved in politics and brought the fire service into disrepute.

"Mark Yates has done the right thing in paying it back and the chairman now needs to do the right thing himself.

"The motion is one of no confidence, we will be asking him to resign and he can spare himself the embarrassment of going through the vote by quitting before the meeting.

"Everything which has come out into the public domain since yesterday shows Derek Prodger's position is untenable, the fire service needs a fresh start."

Labour say the motion is not "about politics", saying they would be content for another Conservative chairman to take over.

Several councillors told us they were undecided about it yesterday, but Matthew Jenkins, from the Green Party, said he was likely to back it.

Cllr Prodger yesterday told us he will not quit, and said he was "hurt" by the whole saga.

"If Mark Yates went down the NHS route we'd have to have paid other staff more money, that's the basis upon which I voted for it," he said.

"It wasn't just me, there were three of us involved. I dealt with it the best I could , it was a genuine decision, I thought I did the right thing and I still do.

"I am prepared to carry on as chairman, I've done nothing untoward - no rules or laws were broken."

Mr Yates, the chief fire officer, had private back surgery costing £5,090 back in October after deciding he was in too much pain to wait around 8-10 weeks on the NHS.

He then claimed it on expenses, and 20 days after the operation was handed a contribution of £3,000 after four fire authority councillors, including Cllr Prodger as chairman, had a vote.

If he waited on an NHS list and had time off work the service estimated it could have cost up to £8,500 in payments to other staff, but by the time of the vote he'd already had the surgery.

Mr Yates, who is paid £122,000, has now paid the money back, saying he felt it disappointed staff, the public and was detracting from the fire service.

The next full meeting of Worcestershire County Council is Thursday, May 15.

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