HAMPSHIRE'S deputy police and crime commissioner has said white men "are not being given equal opportunities" and the number of women in the fire service should be reduced.

Cllr Luke Stubbs' comment came after he objected to a report on equality objectives, which outlined plans for a more inclusive fire service, hiring more women and people from minority ethnic groups.

"The government is bringing in quota programmes across the public sector, but only where it benefits women and minorities," he told the Hampshire and Isle of Wight Fire and Rescue Service Authority meeting on Tuesday.

"In areas where it’s mostly men it has to be 50/50, but in areas where it’s mostly women there’s no change.

"Things like the control room have 84 per cent women and I would like assurance that steps are being taken to reduce that."

Fellow politicians were critical of Mr Stubbs’ views, and women’s charities say his comments could deter women and minorities from applying to work for the fire service.

Hampshire and Isle of Wight Fire and Rescue Service has also made it clear that equality quotas do not exist.

Cllr Rhydian Vaughan MBE, who chaired the meeting, said: "Listening to Mr Stubbs’ opinion you would think we’ve got our equality system all wrong, which I don’t believe at all."

Liberal Democrat for Fareham, Cllr Roger Price, added: "This policy gives everybody in Hampshire a full opportunity to apply for a job in the fire service.

"It’s open to everyone who wants to apply so I see no problem with it."

Mr Stubbs responded: "I can express whichever views I wish – these are my personal views and I think they are shared by the majority of the public.

"I’ve not seen any surveys, but that’s what I believe."

This is not the first time he has been embroiled in controversy.

Last year Mr Stubbs, who is also a Conservative councillor on Portsmouth City Council, told colleagues that gender pay gaps are a "fake narrative" and that he believes "men are the victims".

The Fawcett Society, which campaigns for gender equality, believes Mr Stubbs’ comments may in fact hinder firefighter recruitment.

Chief executive Jemima Olchawski said: "Luke Stubbs’s comments are unhelpful and uninformed – the data clearly shows us white men are definitely not being left behind.

"More than 90 per cent of firefighters in England are male and white, and it’s clear that the profession must recruit and retain both women and people from minority communities.

"But the deputy commissioner’s remarks will have the opposite effect – the absence of women in roles across the emergency services is not of their making and there is so much that organisations can do to improve diversity and make sure they recruit and retain the best talent, from quality flexible working to robust systems to respond to harassment."

The fire service’s head of people and organisational development, Molly Rowland, said: "We are committed to reflecting the many diverse communities that we serve, and this means reaching out to attract those who have been historically under-represented in our organisation."

Police and crime commissioner Donna Jones was approached for comment.