Crime commissioner defends £50k deputy decision

By Carl Jackson Thursday 06 December 2012 Updated: 07/12 00:17

COUNCIL BOSSES have slammed the new Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) for his intention to appoint his former campaign manager as a deputy on a salary of £50,000.

The newly-formed West Mercia Police and Crime Panel, made up of leading members from Worcestershire, Herefordshire and Shropshire councils, rounded on new PCC Bill Longmore at an inaugural meeting on Wednesday (December 5).

The board collectively criticised the proposed appointment of Barrie Sheldon - a former policeman - because he had not gone through a 'competitive and transparent process'.

Councillors accused Mr Longmore of 'crony-ism' and hiring his 'buddy'.

Panel member Roger Hollingworth and leader of Bromsgrove District Council was so incensed, he said Mr Longmore who has only been in his role for 11 days, should step down.

"Its absolutely disgraceful.

"I don't like the process, he has appointed his buddy.

"If we did that in the council we'd get castigated.

"He should resign." said Coun Hollingworth.

"The process has to be seen to be transparent and it hasn't been," he added.

His views were echoed by John Campion, councillor for Wyre Forest, who said he was really concerned about the public perception and that the trust in the role needed to be built up.

The board also raised fears of a lack of diversity and financial experience in the PCC office which will handle a budget of around £200million, arguing Mr Longmore - also a former policeman - had selected a 'duplicate' of himself.

"We are going to end up with three chief constables if we aren't careful," added Brian Wilcox, from Herefordshire County Council.

The panel recommended the commissioner abandon his plan to appoint Mr Sheldon, and urged him to consider other candidates in a manner that was open to public scrutiny.

Mr Longmore, who will ultimately make the final decision, said he took offence to some of the allegations and assured the board he was confident Mr Sheldon was the right man for the job.

He said: "I realised after many weeks [of the election campaign] Barrie had a good many qualities. More than I realised.

"You will find out why I selected him."

Mr Longmore also dismissed the notion they were too similar to bring a wide range of skills to the PCC office.

"A mirror image is not suitable. No one is like me in the way I think. The only similarities are the passion and commitment to do the job, and we intent to do a good job."

Mr Sheldon, who himself faced stern questioning from the panel defended his possible appointment.

"If there was to be a selection process I am confident I would be the best candidate," he added.

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