CONTROVERSY has flared over Hartlepool Mayor Stuart Drummond’s £28,315-a-year appointment as chairman of Cleveland Police Authority.
Critics fear he will not have the same amount of time to devote to his civic duties and are questioning whether he should be paid the full £63,902 allowance he gets as mayor.
An independent panel has now been asked to recommend what level of allowance it feels he should be paid or whether it should remain unchanged.
Mayor Drummond was unveiled as the new chairman of Cleveland Police Authority (CPA) on Tuesday and starts his new role with immediate effect.
The appointment comes at a time when Cleveland Police is facing some of its biggest challenges after being rocked by a series of separate investigations.
The appointment was met with anger from local Conservative party leader, Councillor Ray Wells, (pictured left) who has asked Hartlepool Borough Council’s chief solicitor to intervene and has urged Mayor Drummond to “reconsider” his position as town leader.
Coun Wells claims Mr Drummond will struggle to remain fully focused on Hartlepool with the added responsibility of chairing the police authority.
Mayor Drummond, who was vice-chairman of the authority, hit back at the suggestions by saying: “I know this will be a drain on my time, but I’m ready for the challenge.
“Even with my council commitments, I often need to be in four or five places at once and have to juggle diaries around.
“It will be the same with the police authority, meetings are flexible and that is why I have a personal assistant.
“With technology, you are contactable by mobile or email, you can have a meeting no matter where you are.
“If I wanted an easy life, I wouldn’t be doing what I do. I’ve no qualms about taking on the role with the police, and if I wasn’t confident of doing a good job then I wouldn’t have put myself in for it.”
In his role with the police authority, Mayor Drummond will attend regular meetings - regionally and nationally - as required, liaise with high-ranking police officers and have a significant input into the annual performance review of the Chief Constable.
For that, he will receive £19,940 for his chairman’s commitments along with the £8,375 that all CPA members pick up on a yearly basis.
As vice-chairman of CPA, he picked up £13,759 as well as the standard £8,375 allowance.
For the mayoral role he has carried out since 2002, he collects a special responsibility allowance of £58,135, as well as a basic allowance which all councillors receive of £5,767.
Coun Wells, who represents the Park ward, said: “I’m extremely disturbed at the fact that Mayor Drummond has now accepted a second full-time job.
“While I appreciate many elected members have sat on the police authority in the past, elected members are not full-time employees of the local authority, of which Mayor Drummond is and gets compensated for.
“It’s because of this I have asked the chief solicitor to refer Mayor Drummond’s allowances to the Independent Remuneration Panel, and he has confirmed he has done that.
“My message to the panel is, when Mayor Drummond’s allowances were set some time ago, it was to have an elected mayor working for the good of the town on a full-time basis.
“If Mayor Drummond wishes to continue as chairman of the police authority, I would ask him to reconsider his position as mayor.”
Having previously served the CPA as vice-chairman, Mayor Drummond compares his step-up to a councillor who is a member of the local authority cabinet moving up to the position of elected mayor.
He added: “I have learned a lot from my time as vice-chairman, and I also chair the Safer Hartlepool Partnership so I have an insight into how policing works.
“I will still have a lot to learn, with lots of new challenges ahead, but I am looking forward to it.
“The problems facing the police are similar to what is being faced by the council, in that we have to deal with public sector cuts.
“As well as the financial challenge we are also heading towards a massive change in the way policing in this country is overseen with the election next November of Police and Crime Commissioners and the appointment of Police and Crime Panels.”
He also believes his new position could boost his home town, adding: “I would like to think my position could have positive ramifications for Hartlepool.
“If we can maintain a high standard of policing across the Cleveland force area, then that filters through to Hartlepool.
“The police role looks at a wider picture than just Hartlepool, but if the town can benefit then that can only be a good thing.”
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