By Shaun Moloney
The West Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner Marks Burns-Williamson has defended the controversial appointment of his deputy – saying that she was hired entirely on merit.
The appointment had come under fire last week at a full Leeds City Council meeting when Coun Stewart Golton (Lib Dem, Rothwell) called it “disgusting” and “cronyism gone mad”.
Mr Golton’s comments stemmed from his accusation that Mr Burns-Williamson had, in the process of recruiting his deputy, only interviewed Labour candidates – primarily those involved in helping him attain his position.
Mr Burns Williamson this week said: “I was elected as the Labour Police and Crime Commissioner for West Yorkshire and I intend to get on with the important job of making sure over the next three years that our communities are safer and feel safer.
“I have appointed Isabel Owen as my Deputy, on merit, to support me in delivering on the commitments I made to the people of West Yorkshire when I stood for election.”
Coun Alison Lowe (Armley, Labour) , who is chair of the crime panel responsible for scrutinising the work of the Police and Crime Commissioner, said that there wasn’t enough evidence yet to show that a recruitment of a deputy was necessary.
Mr Burns Williamson said: “The position of Deputy was set out in the government legislation and Isabel’s appointment has been approved by the Police and Crime Panel.
“I have no doubt that a Deputy is needed in West Yorkshire, the fourth largest police area in England and Wales with significant national policing and crime prevention responsibilities and Isabel is working to deliver on my vision and priorities as set out in my five year police and crime plan for West Yorkshire.
“The Police and Crime Commissioners office now costs less that 0.4% of the total police budget, and costs significantly less than the previous Police Authority. The costs of my office will continue to be reduced in line with the government cuts to policing in West Yorkshire.”