COUNCILLOR Derek Prodger has survived a vote of 'no confidence' in his role as chairman of the fire authority - after the county's Conservatives called the attacks on him "scandalous".

The embattled Tory sat ashen-faced through a debate about his future yesterday following Mark Yates' back operation saga.

Mr Yates, the chief fire officer, was handed £3,000 towards having a private back operation from taxpayers’ funds after deciding not to wait 12 weeks on the NHS.

The decision, which was made by Cllr Prodger and two other politicians in a private meeting, led to Worcestershire County Council's Labour group making a bid to force him out with a 'no confidence' motion.

It led to furious clashes across the chamber yesterday, with Labour saying Cllr Prodger has "brought the council into disrepute" but the Tories calling it "a shameful personal attack" on their party colleague.

Councillor Peter McDonald, Labour group leader, said: "It is with deep regret that I do this, as I had hoped Cllr Prodger would have resigned before we got to this meeting.

"I'm doing this because of the cavalier way he's used the public purse, he's embarrassed not only this council but the fire authority.

"He is only on the fire authority because this council put him there in the first place.

"The decision to make the payment was made after the operation took place, so there was no saving - he has demonstrated a clear error of judgement."

But the Tories were infuriated by the attack, and cited Cllr Prodger's record.

Councillor Adrian Hardman, the leader, said: "I personally take great exception to the witch hunt the leader of the Labour Party has organised against Cllr Prodger, who has been an excellent chairman of the fire authority.

"You cannot get away from the fact that in the last two years the number of fires are down, even false alarms are down, he's made £3.5 million of efficiencies, he's made reforms by taking out 26 middle managers, even sickness rates are down 21 per cent.

"What you are attempting to do is wreck the reputation of a fine public servant."

Councillor Marcus Hart, a fellow Conservative who sits in the cabinet, said while some people may have found the back payment "outrageous" he did not as he wanted Mr Yates back at work quickly.

He called the motion "disgraceful, disgusting, shameful and vitriolic".

During the vote all the Tories present went against it, but the Liberal Democrats and Greens abstained.

Most Labour councillors did not vote on their motion, saying they had made their views clear, while seven actively abstained.

Mr Yates had private back surgery costing £5,090 back in October after deciding he was in too much pain to wait on the NHS.

He then claimed it on expenses, and 20 days after the operation was handed a contribution of £3,000 Mr Yates, who is paid £122,000, has now paid the money back after it hit the headlines.