On the 6th of December 2012, on the morning of the day of the Cambridgeshire Police and Crime Panel meeting which will be asked to consider Police and Crime Commissioner Graham Bright’s proposed appointment of Brian Ashton as his deputy, I went on the Paul Stainton Breakfast Show on BBC Radio Cambridgeshire to talk about the proposed appointment and the amount Mr Bright is planning to spend on his office.
Paul Stainton and I questioned how Mr Bright is able to give an assurance he will be saving money compared to the Police Authority given his proposed additional spending on his deputy and other staff. The question of why the Commissioner is apparently seeing the ~£200,000 saved each year by not having to pay Police Authority members any expenses and allowances as cash for him to spend on his office, rather than a saving which ought be banked before we even get to talking about any additional costs the Commissioner might cut, was raised.
I sought to stress that the Commissioner has one pot of money, and what he spends on his office, and appointing his friends and Conservative party colleagues to well paid positions, is not available for front-line policing.
I have also written to the two Cambridge councillors who are members of the Cambridgeshire Police and Crime Panel:
Cllrs Bick and Wilkins,
In advance of your consideration of Commissioner Bright’s proposed appointment of his friend Brian as his deputy on £28,000 for 2-3 days work I would like to draw your attention to the following:
- The commissioner’s proposal does not make clear if Brian Ashton would be paid his £28,000 “on-payroll” and have income tax and national insurance deducted at source. I suggest the panel recommend this occurs to preclude the possibility of any tax avoidance.
- The arrangements for any expenses for Mr Ashton have not been made clear, nor have arrangements for any potential other payments or benefits, for example office costs or computer equipment.
- Brian Ashton, was interviewed by Chris Mann on the BBC Radio Cambridgeshire Drivetime show last week; in that interview he said he might do less than 2 days a week towards the end of the period.
- Graham Bright didn’t mention he was going to appoint a deputy during the election, certainly didn’t say he had his friend Brian in mind, or that he was thinking of paying him 28K for 2-3 days a week.
- On BBC Cambridgeshire, on Drivetime, about a week ago Commissioner Graham Bright was asked what he and his deputy will be doing, he replied :
” I can’t at the moment because we’re still getting to grips with exactly what we will be doing.”
In light of this I would suggest the panel recommend he waits and sees if he needs a deputy, and what he needs them to do, before making an appointment.
- Derbyshire’s Police and Crime Commissioner is openly advertising for a deputy – http://www.thisisderbyshire.co.uk/Elected-police-commissioner-hire-pound-56-000/story-17477174-detail/story.html and perhaps seeking to make an appointment on merit, this is something you could recommend happens in Cambridgeshire, in the interests of maintaining public confidence in the Commissioner and his staff.
- The suggestion salaries for Deputy Police and Crime Commissioners are by the Government has appeared in the local press. This is not the case, the panel may wish to clarify this and ensure the position is clear to the public.
- There is no current clarity on the question of if the Commissioner may appoint further deputies in the future.
I have placed the radio interviews I have referred to on YouTube and linked to them from:
I also note there has been no sign, in public at least, that the commissioner requested a confirmation hearing for Dorothy Gregson who appears to have become effectively his Chief of Staff. I would also suggest the panel ought carefully consider the role Gregson plays in the confirmation hearings given she is a key member of the Commissioner’s staff.