Ex-fire chief in sponsored car row
Published 13/02/2013 | 18:47
The decision of a former chief fire officer in Northern Ireland to accept a sponsored vehicle from Charles Hurst car dealers has been criticised at Stormont.
Peter Craig supported acquiring the Land Rover from the company in 2009, before he took the top job, to help educate people about road traffic collisions.
Despite being told by his then boss, Colin Lammey, to return it, it was found to have been stored in a lock-up garage in Carryduff and later reinstated by Mr Craig when he became chief fire officer.
Mr Lammey told a Stormont committee: "I saw the seeking of sponsorship for the fire service as much similar to a procurement exercise in that we should have made it known that we were looking for sponsorship of a particular type of vehicle, not a Land Rover because you would start to target a small number of suppliers."
In a letter to Mr Craig, Mr Lammey, the then chief fire officer, instructed that the vehicle be immediately removed from fire service premises and given back.
Mr Lammey added: "I was very concerned that the seeking of sponsorship was done in an open and transparent manner so that all suppliers of such vehicles, not particularly Land Rover, would have an equal opportunity to put their bid forward."
But instead of being driven to the car dealers on Boucher Road it went to Carryduff, to the Ardmore Advertising and Marketing company which had originally obtained the car, and was kept in storage.
When Mr Craig himself became chief, he overturned the previous decision that it should be returned.
He told Stormont's health committee that had been a mistake but defended the use of sponsored vehicles. During the Olympics the London fire service was provided with BMWs and Mr Craig cited several other fire services in Great Britain which also used sponsored vehicles.
He defended it as long as the practice was transparent and fair.