Police and Crime Commissioner role could be scrapped under devolution plans
The office of our PCC employs 30 Full time equivalent staff and cost us £6m annually.
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Oliver Pridmore www.nottinghampost.com
Ben Bradley says the role of Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) could be scrapped in Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire as part of devolution arrangements for both counties. The leader of Nottinghamshire County Council was speaking as the results of a public consultation on the proposed East Midlands devolution deal are published.
The deal would see a new authority established in the East Midlands that would be given £1.14 billion over 30 years, alongside extra powers in areas such as housing and transport. Those taking part in the consultation broadly agreed with most parts of the deal, but there was less support for the creation of an East Midlands Mayor to head up the new devolved authority.
The first East Midlands Mayor is set to be elected in May 2024, the same month when the new East Midlands authority is set to be formally established. The public consultation saw 45% disagreeing with the plans for the governance of the new authority, compared to 42% who agreed, with comments mainly focusing on the creation of the new mayor role.
But speaking about some of the concerns raised, Ben Bradley said: “Certainly people ask those questions around whether this is more politicians and more elections. It doesn’t have to be and we’ve got all sorts of options as we go forward.
“There are options in other places where you have less politicians, where PCCs disappear and become part of the combined authority. All those things are questions for us to consider and look at in the future.
“It doesn’t have to be more politicians. I feel very strongly that this is about getting all of our existing people and structures into a coherent strategy so we’re working together instead of pulling in different directions.”
PCCs are elected to hold the Chief Constable of the relevant force to account and to oversee the force as a whole. The roles were created in 2012 after the abolition of police authorities, with former Sherwood MP Paddy Tipping serving as Nottinghamshire’s first PCC.
Mr Tipping, who stood for Labour, was elected again in 2016 but was then defeated by Conservative candidate Caroline Henry in 2021. Speaking about the future of the role, Caroline Henry said: “No decision has yet been made on whether the role of the PCC will be subsumed into a new governance structure because there are two statutory police force areas, with separate commissioners.
“As such, the PCC element is unlikely to be a component. As it stands, we are told by government that they fully expect there to be PCC election cycles in Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire in May 2024.”
The devolution agreement was first signed last August by Ben Bradley, together with the leaders of Nottingham City Council, Derby City Council and Derbyshire County Council. Nottingham City Council leader David Mellen has previously said he was not “100% in favour” of having a new East Midlands mayor.
But Ben Bradley says having a mayor is a condition of being given the amount of money and power set to be handed to the East Midlands. He said: “We took the view as the four upper tier leaders across Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire that we would play the game.
“We want these outcomes, so we’ll do what we need to do to get these outcomes. In other places over the border, they decided to have an argument with Government about it and as a result they’re not going to get the outcomes.
“I think we’ve made the right choice.” Addressing the question of whether there would be a low turnout for the first East Midlands Mayor election, Councillor Bradley said: “It’s incumbent on us as leaders to make sure we engage with people and they see the reasons to come and have their say on this, so I hope this won’t be an issue.”
Ben Bradley, who also serves as Mansfield’s Conservative MP, has not yet confirmed whether he would run to be East Midlands Mayor himself. The process of establishing a ‘shadow’ East Midlands authority, preceding the formal set-up next year, is set to begin in April.
Caroline Henry added: “I always want the best for people in Nottingham and Nottinghamshire and I am fully supportive of any devolution deal that helps deliver the best outcome in terms of investment and local control for vital services and infrastructure. I have been working closely with senior figures across Nottingham, Nottinghamshire, Derby and Derbyshire throughout this process to help deliver the best deal for local people.”
The consultation saw 4,869 responses altogether, with majority agreement on proposals around the transport and environment powers the new authority would have. Legislation to form the new authority could go through Parliament later this year.