President finally appointed but political divide remains – Wokingham.Today
The THAMES Valley Police & Crime Panel ended a nearly three-month hiatus by finally agreeing to the nomination of a new chairman, but political divisions remain.
Comprised of representatives from Oxfordshire, Buckinghamshire and Berkshire councils, the panel examines and examines how Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) Matthew Barber keeps Thames Valley Police operating effectively.
It is seen as an oversight function whose members are expected to remain politically neutral – government advice states that “the committee should not become a battleground between members of different parties” – while holding the CCP accountable.
That spirit went up in smoke in June when a deadlocked tie over who should chair meetings pitted the Tories against Labour, Green Party and Liberal Democrat advisers.
The two independent panel members, neither of whom was an adviser, have since resigned.
Panel members can only vote if they attend in person and the Conservatives had the number in the room this time – nine to eight – to elect Councilor Keith McLean (Con, Milton Keynes Council) as chair. Councilor Eddie Reeves (Con, Cherwell District Council), who is the leader of the Conservative Opposition in Oxfordshire County Council, was elected vice-chairman.
Such appointments are usually agreed without dissent, but despite the inevitability of the numbers, both sides stuck to their guns before more uncomfortable discussions about who should host the meetings.
The host authority, currently Oxfordshire County Council, can be decided by the panel each year.
It does not dictate where the meetings take place – the panel this week agreed to continue meeting in Aylesbury – but which of the councils in the Thames Valley patch administers the meetings and manages the funding for the Home Office grants which pays the panel for function.
Cllr Reeves offered Buckinghamshire Council to host, ‘at least for the remainder of the municipal year’, with Cllr Robin Bradburn (Lib Dem, Milton Keynes Council) and Screening Officer Khalid Ahmed saying the host had conventionally handed over to the authority of the president. after six months.
Cllr Simon Rouse (Con, Buckinghamshire Council) stepped in to read the rules which give the panel the ability to select an authority.
“It is perfectly fair for this panel to determine that he wishes to transfer,” he said.
Mr Ahmed said talks would have to take place between the chief executives of various councils before decisions were taken, citing that West Oxfordshire District Council did not want to take on the responsibility of being host when its representative was in attendance. the Presidency.
“It’s not just about changing the name, there are all the behind-the-scenes things that need to be changed regarding grants, officers, etc.,” he said.
“It would be tough if you made a decision that the GMs wouldn’t agree with.”
Cllr Rouse replied: “I would just like to confirm that Buckinghamshire are happy to take on the role of host authority.”
Cllr Reeves said he had raised the matter with Cherwell’s watchdog, Buckinghamshire had come forward and the panel was unaware of any counter offers, encouraging the panel to at least vote on his preference.
Cllr McLean replied: “I hear what you’re saying, I feel uncomfortable about this from my own authority point of view because I haven’t been part of that dialogue you referred to. “
Having ‘heard nothing’ about it, he asked Cllr Bradburn if he had.
Cllr Bradburn replied: “If Buckinghamshire are desperate for it I’m sure the managing director of Milton Keynes would consider it, but there seems to be an urgency to get it to Buckinghamshire.
“What is the urgency for Buckinghamshire to lead it? Is it because they want Home Office money? Seems weird to me, why not just stick with how we’ve always done it? »
The decision was deferred to the next panel meeting in November.