Shock snub in race for top police role

Jonathon Brash.
Jonathon Brash.

A HARTLEPOOL Labour councillor shortlisted for a top police role is being shunned by fellow party members in his home town.

Police Commissioner hopeful Jonathan Brash said he is “disappointed and saddened” that Labour members in Hartlepool have endorsed his rival from Middlesbrough.

Coun Jonathan Brash is on a two-man shortlist to run as Labour’s candidate for the Police and Crime Commissioner role in Cleveland.

He is battling it out with Middlesbrough councillor Barry Coppinger to stand in the November 15 election for the powerful position with Cleveland Police.

But Coun Brash said he is disappointed the Hartlepool Constituency Labour Party (CLP) has officially endorsed Coun Coppinger over him.

There will now be a postal ballot of all members in the Cleveland Police force area before the successful candidate is announced this summer.

Coun Brash, who represents the Burn Valley ward, said: “The Labour Party in Hartlepool has well over 200 members and I am disappointed and saddened that fewer than 30 of them, who sit on the general committee, have decided to endorse a Middlesbrough candidate.

“But the great strength of the Labour Party is that it is a democratic organisation and every one of those members can make up their own mind about who they wish to vote for and no one can tell them otherwise.

“I have received a huge number of messages of support from party members in Hartlepool and across Cleveland.”

Coun Brash added: “I am very much enjoying setting out why I want to be Police and Crime Commissioner to party members across our area and I will keep doing so until the last vote is counted.”​

He has pledged to ensure all meetings are in public, hold monthly question times and take part in regular face-the-public events and establish a residents’ panel and Community Safety Champions in every area.

Edwin Jeffries, president of Hartlepool CLP, said: “At the general management committee of May 16, following excellent presentations from both candidates Barry Coppinger and Jonathan Brash the members present felt that, although both candidates would make excellent Police and Crime Commissioners, Mr Coppingers’ previous experience of the policing service across Cleveland and his involvement in the production of the Policing Plan meant that he would be more able to ‘hit the floor running’ in November and voted accordingly to endorse Mr Coppinger as Hartlepool CLP’s preferred candidate.”

Mr Jeffries added the vote for Labour’s candidate is on a one-member, one-vote basis with all members receiving communications from both candidates and the opportunity to attend hustings meetings, organised by Labour North, before casting their votes.

The new 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.

Police and crime panels, made up of councillors, will hold the commissioner to account and contribute to the policing plan and to the plans for spending on police services.