Wales’ fire and rescue authorities are ill-equipped to hold services to account amid allegations of sexual harassment and bullying, a Senedd committee has heard.

Julie James, the newly appointed local government secretary, gave evidence to a Senedd inquiry on the governance of fire and rescue services in Wales.

Ms James, who has only been in post for one working week, told the equality committee she has concerns about the size of Wales’ three fire and rescue authorities, which have between 24 and 28 members and generally drawn from council backbenches.

Ms James said: “I suspect, strongly, that what we are looking at here is a governance model … that isn’t really well equipped to hold a specialist service to account.”