Crime czar Alison Hernandez does U-turn and puts deputy plan “on hold”

“Crime czar Alison Hernandez has bowed to pressure and abandoned a plan to appoint a Tory colleague from her local council days as her second-in-command. The Devon and Cornwall Police and Crime Commissioner asked the police and crime panel to rubber stamp the appointment of fellow Conservative and Torbay councillor Mark Kingscote on Friday.

Ms Hernandez wanted the 55-year-old NHS support worker, who specialises in mental health, to help her with the workload on a £30,000 salary.

But, amid concerns over his qualifications for the role and controversy over a tweet referring to lesbians as “lesbos”, the the panel of councillors rejected the proposal.

Mr Kingscote’s tasteless tweet was covered here by EDW:

The hearing heard how the attempted appointment “smacked of nepotism”.

After a private meeting, the panel concluded that Kingscote – a staunch Conservative who once chained himself to a set of railings to protest about the downfall of his hero, Margaret Thatcher, “does not meet minimum requirements of the post”.

The ruling capped a bruising week for Ms Hernandez, in which a council voted she should be removed from her role for making “stupid and dangerous” comments about guns.

Plymouth City Council’s Labour group tabled a vote of no confidence in Alison Hernandez, saying they are “extremely alarmed” at her stance on how to tackle terrorists.

Ms Hernandez was not bound by the panel’s decision, which was revealed to the commissioner in a letter received yesterday.

However, she risked making enemies of a group which is constituted to oversee her work, placing her a loggerheads for the final three years of her tenure.

In a statement released today, Ms Hernandez accepted the decision and said she “has put plans to appoint a deputy on hold”.

“I am disappointed that the Panel did not feel able to support my choice of deputy but I am willing to accept its recommendation,” she said. “I will now spend some time contemplating my next move and will await the appointment of a new chief executive before making a decision.”

“I would like to thank Mark Kingscote for being willing to consider taking on this challenge on behalf of the people of Devon, Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly and I believe he would have served the people of our counties and islands well.”

Read Alison Hernandez’s letter to the panel:

Deputy Police and Crime Commissioner Confirmation Hearing Report

Thank you for your letter of 11th July following the confirmation hearing on 7th July.

I am disappointed that the Panel does not feel able to support my choice of deputy. However, while I feel there are some misunderstandings around both the role, and the process of appointment, I reluctantly accept the recommendation and will not be appointing Mark Kingscote as my deputy Police and Crime Commissioner.

The Panel represents our communities across Devon, Cornwall and the Isles of
Scilly and I absolutely respect the views of its members but, if you will allow me, I think it would be helpful to respond to the points raised about Mark Kingscote’s suitability.

In relation to estates, I require someone who can assist with the strategic overview of the planning and investment part of the process not the day to day maintenance. So while I can see that you may doubt his track record in estate management, I did feel Mark had the necessary experience in estate development as he has successfully steered multi-million pound planning applications.

On the second point Mark has apologised for his poor choice of words while using Twitter. Please be assured he did not mean to insult, offend or be discriminatory and he is sad that he was unable to convince the Panel of this.

Finally, and perhaps most importantly, I must address your point about working councillors. I am determined to encourage more working people to become elected councillors so that our communities can be better represented. Elected roles cannot only be for the retired, unemployed or wealthy. I myself worked after being elected and I strongly believe that Mark would have been able to serve both Torbay residents and the wider population of Devon, Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly well.

I will now spend some time contemplating my next move and will await the
appointment of a new chief executive before making a decision.

I look forward to seeing you in August at confirmation hearings for both the new Treasurer and CEO. Thank you for finding the time in your diary to enable this to happen outside of the normal schedule of meetings.

Yours sincerely
Alison Hernandez
Police and Crime Commissioner
Devon, Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly”