West Mercia PCC 'no confidence' motion rejected

Bill Longmore, West Mercia's first police and crime commissioner Bill Longmore described the latest call for a vote of no confidence as being a case of "sour grapes"

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A motion of no confidence against the police and crime commissioner for West Mercia has been rejected by councillors.

Four out of 53 Worcestershire County Councillors voted in favour of the motion at a council meeting earlier.

The vote followed criticism of Bill Longmore's decision to appoint his former campaign manager as his deputy.

Mr Longmore was pleased the vote went in his favour and said there is "no animosity" towards those against him.

'Not transparent'

He said: "I think now we can all sit down together and start working for the job I was appointed for.

"It's a big job and I think it needs us all to work together to achieve everything that was set out in the policing current plan.

"I'm looking forward to working with the people on the council.

"There's no animosity as far as I'm concerned.

"I Just want to work together so that West Mercia people will have a really good police force, a safe environment and a happy environment."

Mr Longmore added he was going to suggest that potential commissioners proposed a deputy, ahead of future elections.

Bill Longmore accuses party politicians of "sour grapes" as they ramp up the pressure on him to resign.

Is it, as he implies, a question of party politicians trying to get their own back because he was elected as an Independent?

I suspect the answer may reflect a clash of cultures. In his new-style executive role he is quite within his rights to appoint his chosen deputy without any semblance of an open or transparent selection process.

But this is clearly at odds with the selection processes of local government.

Ultimately, he is not accountable to individual local authorities and the Police and Crime panel reflecting all the councils in the area cannot veto his decision.

Perhaps the real test will be whether or not his embarrassment threshold is sufficiently high for him to tough it out for another three-and-a-half years.

The Labour group on the council had proposed the motion after Mr Longmore appointed Barry Sheldon as his deputy on a £50,000 salary.

They said candidates for the deputy role should have had full interviews and that the process in selecting Mr Sheldon was not "open and transparent."

Twenty seven councillors voted against the motion and 18 abstained from the vote.

BBC Midlands Today's Cath Mackie said: "Although the motion was overwhelmingly rejected, not a single councillor who spoke at the debate supported Bill Longmore's decision to personally appoint his deputy.

"He was accused by all sides of naivety and a lack of transparency."

'Extremely bad judgement'

Labour councillor Alan Amos said his group had proposed the motion because of what he called "unprecedented concern and anger throughout Worcestershire".

Mr Amos said: "Nobody's accused him of breaking the law. There comes a point when even if you haven't broken the law you should consider your position.

"What he's done is extremely bad judgement and he's brought the position of police and crime commissioner into disrepute within days of being elected.

"He's undermined the running of the West Mercia Police force by his actions.

"To go on as he is now in a very weakened state he commands no respect."

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