A new fire chief with zero experience in the service quit after just ten days over her friendship with the man who appointed her.
Last night there were growing calls for Northampton Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner (PFCC) Stephen Mold to follow Nicci Marzec out of a job.
Mr Mold appointed Ms Marzec as his local fire brigade chief despite her having never worked in the fire service. She resigned after criticism from the Fire Brigades Union that her recruitment was ‘highly unusual’ given she had ‘no operational understanding of the role’.
Tory commissioner Mr Mold said speculation over his relationship with Ms Marzec, who separated from her husband a year ago, had ‘created a level of criticism I had not expected and is not helpful to the service’. The 55-year-old added: ‘My friendship with Nicci Marzec, who is a long-standing colleague, has become the story and that must not damage the reputation of these organisations.’
Mr Mold, for whom Ms Marzec previously worked as monitoring officer and head of paid staff, said he acted with urgency to fill the role ahead of the recent Grand Prix at Silverstone.
But he admitted he failed to consult with the PFCC panel.
In a statement to the BBC, his office said Mr Mold and Ms Marzec ‘have been open about their friendship’ and have ‘reiterated that they are not in a relationship’.
Councillor Matt Keane, leader of the Labour group and opposition at North Northamptonshire Council, called for an investigation. He said he believed Mr Mold’s ‘judgment had been clouded by the nature of his close personal relationship with Ms Marzec’. Adam Taylor, Fire Brigades Union representative for the East Midlands, described the events as ‘shambolic’ and called on Mr Mold to resign.
‘It should have been obvious that appointing someone to this role without any fire service experience was untenable,’ he said.
It was announced on July 7 that Ms Marzec, 50, would be taking over as interim boss following the sudden departure of predecessor Mark Jones. He was said to have left his £140,000-a-year role by ‘mutual agreement’ to concentrate on recovering from injury.
Mr Mold initially sought to defend her position, claiming Ms Marzec had experience ‘across a range of professional fields’.
He also said he took legal advice before offering her the job. But it was announced on Monday she had decided to ‘step back’ from her role in the fire service and as monitoring officer.
Simon Tuhill, who joined the service yesterday as deputy chief fire officer, will be asked to cover the role vacated by Ms Marzec.
Last night, Ms Marzec’s husband said news of his estranged wife’s new job and subsequent resignation came as a ‘surprise’. Speaking from the couple’s former home in Lincolnshire, Carl Grimmer said: ‘I have an amicable relationship with my soon-to-be-ex wife. I don’t know anything about her friendship with Stephen Mold.’
Speaking from the family home in Northamptonshire, Mr Mold’s wife Nicky said: ‘Obviously I know all about the situation but I don’t want to say anything.’