We heard, six times between 6 and 9am:
‘Scottish Fire and Rescue has a backlog of almost £400 million in vehicle and property maintenance.’
According to the BBC report, Audit Scotland have described the funding gap as ‘insurmountable’.
The above information was extracted from the 5th statement in the summary on page 5 of the report. Missing from the BBC broadcast was any reference to statements 1 to 4 or the opening to statement 5, which include these key points:
- The Scottish Fire and Rescue Service (SFRS) continues to deliver emergency and prevention services while progressing a complex and ambitious programme of reform.
- The board continues to work well, with real strengths in the quality of discussion and scrutiny and challenge of management. The board and management display mutual respect, a constructive tone and genuine shared ownership of the issues facing the SFRS.
- The SFRS has an ambitious vision that involves significant changes to make it a more flexible, modern service. Progress with developing and implementing the plans for transformation has been steady but slow, due to a range of contributing factors.
- The SFRS has continued to make progress with integrating different ways of working but has not yet achieved full integration. Harmonised pay and conditions for firefighters were agreed in April 2018, placing the SFRS in a good position to complete integration of the service.
- The SFRS has strong financial management and has developed a good approach to long-term financial planning. It is now in a position to progress with transformation.
This is a classic scare story, based on bias by omission, which was likely to be all the more scary given the time of broadcast and the repetition of one negative aspect, from a more complex and balanced document.