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Norfolk's chief fire officer resigns

PUBLISHED: 14:40 18 January 2019 | UPDATED: 14:59 18 January 2019

Norfolk's chief fire officer David Ashworth has resigned. Picture: Ian Burt

Norfolk's chief fire officer David Ashworth has resigned. Picture: Ian Burt

Archant 2018

Norfolk's chief fire officer has resigned from the post after more than 35 years with the county's fire and rescue service.

David Ashworth has stepped down from the role he has held permanently since July 2017, having led the service temporarily for the previous nine months.

His deputy Stuart Ruff, who joined Norfolk from Lincolnshire in May last year, will lead the service while council bosses start the process to recruit a new chief fire officer.

Andrew Proctor, leader of Norfolk County Council, said: “David has been a fantastic asset to Norfolk Fire and Rescue Service for more than 35 years and is well respected within the service and beyond.

“David has achieved many great things during his time and been instrumental in delivering significant performance improvements and establishing many new and innovative ways of working which will be a lasting legacy.

“Whilst we are very sad to see him go, we respect his decision and wish him a well-earned and happy retirement.

“Norfolk’s assistant chief fire officer, Stuart Ruff, will lead the service temporarily and the process to recruit a new chief fire officer will start in the coming weeks.”

Whoever gets the new role on a permanent basis will be the fire service’s fourth chief officer in the space of three and a half years.

Mr Ashworth took over from Roy Harold, who retired with “immediate effect” in November 2016. He had succeeded Nigel Williams in September 2015, having worked in the fire service for 30 years.

Mr Ashworth oversaw the fire service response to last year’s busy summer, when a heatwave saw firefighters called to scores of blazes.

And he has been at the helm at a time when the service’s future was the subject of much debate.

Conservative commissioner Lorne Green was at loggerheads with Tory-run Norfolk County Council over the future of the service, which County Hall runs. but which Mr Green was considering trying to take over.

Mr Green’s consultation showed 59pc of more than 7,700 people who responded to the eight-week process supported a switch in contol. But, in the light of the opposition from County Hall, he decided not to submit a business case for a takeover.

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