Friday, 14 September 2012

It is a fair cop? Allowances for West Yorkshire Police and Crime Panels

It is a very fair cop!
In November there will be elections for the new Police and Crime Commissioner posts. This  will be a paid post and will in my view be an unnecessary and expensive politicisation of the Police force on the US model. The election itself is timed in the dark nights of November and is almost guaranteed to have a very low turnout yet cost a small fortune to hold. This in itself is all bad enough but recent action with regard to the West Yorkshire Police and Crime Panels warrant special attention.

The Police and Crime Panels have the job of scrutinising the Police and Crime Commissioner and will comprise of a panel of 12 Councillors from around West Yorkshire. The membership of the panels has been determined by the 5 West Yorkshire Council Leaders (all Labour) and should be roughly proportional according to the political makeup of the Council. As such there are 8 Labour members 3 Tory and 1 Liberal Democrat. Each member of the panel will receive an allowance of £11,716. That is a total of over £140k. So how much has been provided by central government per Councillor to pay allowances for these posts? Well it is around £920/ member /year. So out of highly stretched council or police budgets Councillors are paying themselves the best part of an additional £130k/year. You could argue that central government should be making more money available for these posts if they are that important. The fact is that they have not and so really West Yorkshire  Labour Council Leaders should be putting this case back to central government rather than simply paying, mainly Labour Councillors, an allowance which will simply be a drain on already depleted  funds. Another good question is to ask is what has happened on other Police and Crime Panels across the country with regard to allowances? It seems that the decision to pay over 10 times the amount of funding provided by Government is one that very few other Councils are taking and nationally WestYorkshire are pretty much going it alone.

For Kirklees there will be one Labour and one Conservative nominee. This gives Labour another opportunity to reward the Conservatives for allowing the Labour Party to take the leadership of Kirklees Council at the Annual Meeting and it is interesting Kirklees was chosen by West Yorkshire Labour Leaders to be one of the places where the Conservatives were allocated a place. Patronage rules OK.

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