‘Business as usual’ as mayor re-elected police authority chair

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HARTLEPOOL Mayor Stuart Drummond said it is “business as usual” after being re-elected as chair of Cleveland Police Authority.

The town’s leader, who has held the position since December, was re-elected at the CPA’s annual general meeting.

In November, the CPA will be replaced by a Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) and the mayor will hold the position for the final months of the authority.

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Mayor Drummond said the authority owed it to the public to hand over an organisation in the best possible shape.

He said while the CPA would look to avoid making major decisions which could significantly commit the incoming PCC, there was still a major challenge in maintaining front-line services, dealing with huge financial issues and preparing for the change over.

One decision that has been deferred is the proposal to sell Cleveland Police’s current headquarters in Ladgate Lane to move to a new purpose-built site in Hemlington Grange, in Middlesbrough.

Mayor Drummond said: “When I was elected as chair last December I stressed the range and scale of issues facing the authority.

“Issues which we must continue to tackle in the months ahead.

“Of course, we will take into account the reality that from November 22 whoever is elected as Police Commissioner will take on responsibilities for overseeing policing in Cleveland.

“But we owe it to the public to ensure that we maintain services at the same time as ensuring that we are able to hand over a force and organisation in the best possible shape.

“There will be some matters where it will probably make sense to await the arrival of the Commissioner, for example a final decision on the possible move to a new force headquarters.

“But both I and my fellow authority members are totally committed to ensuring that, wherever possible, it will be business as usual.

“I also know that everyone involved with the authority and the force takes justified pride in what, working together, we have achieved in recent years in Cleveland and the fact that the Commissioner will be inheriting responsibility for one of the most successful forces in the country with one of the highest public confidence levels.

“From now until November we will be working to ensure that we do everything to ensure that the progress we have made is sustained and hopefully continued in the future.”

Mayor Drummond’s initial appointment sparked controversy in town, with residents and councillors questioning his ability to hold both roles.

But he has always remained bullish about holding both positions.

Mayor Drummond picks up £22,734 for his police authority chairman’s commitments and the allowances will be paid on a pro rata basis until November 21.

Police and Crime Commissioners will replace police authorities and have the power to appoint chief constables and to call on them to retire or resign.

The role is expected to pay around £65,000.

Responsibilities include holding the chief constable to account, setting the police precept and budget and producing a police and crime plan.