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Bill Longmore fires off angry letter to council
THE region's new police and crime commissioner has penned a letter to Worcestershire County Council in a bid to get a 'no confidence' motion rejected.
The duo are former work colleagues at Staffordshire Police, and Mr Longmore went ahead with the appointment against advice from the watchdog-style Police and Crime Panel.
On Thursday, the county council's Labour group will press for a vote on a 'no confidence' motion on the duo.
The letter from Mr Longmore states: "Under the legislation introducing Commissioners, specific provision was made for PCCs to appoint their deputies by personal selection, rather like the way the Prime Minister selects a cabinet or for that matter how some local authorities allocate portfolios to councillor colleagues.
"Of the commissioners who have so far made deputy or assistant appointments the overwhelming majority have done so as I have done, by personal selection.
"The process I followed was both lawful and proper, albeit the Police and Crime Panel would have preferred that I had held an open process.
"West Mercia is a large area and the work of the commissioner extensive - I consider I need a deputy to help me carry out my tasks which are even more extensive than those performed by the former 17-member Police Authority.
"The body charged with scrutinising my actions, the Police and Crime Panel, which has been critical also of my choice of deputy, actually supported the view that a deputy was necessary.
"I totally refute the allegation which some have made that my choice of Mr Sheldon was because of long held friendship and not based on merit.
"As a university lecturer in policing studies Mr Sheldon has a wealth of knowledge and skills of great use in this role.
"It was because of those skills I asked him to assist in my election campaign.
"I had no association with Mr Sheldon before that time save that some 28 years ago he was a junior officer in the same Police Force, I hardly knew him then and had no contact with him whatsoever since that time until I sought his assistance with my election.
"To say that I have simply appointed a friend or someone without merit is simply misleading and wrong."
The panel has labelled the appointment "cronyism" and is still urging him to go back to the drawing board.
It called for an "open, transparent" process of selection and was also concerned the deputy's exact role was not made clear.
Another criticism has been over Mr Longmore not making it clear of his intentions before the election in November.
Councillor Richard Udall, from the Labour group, said: "He has shown a remarkable lack of judgement, and I have seen nothing so far for me to change my mind.
"We think he followed the wrong process in appointing his deputy, it's that simple."