This blog is mainly about the governance and future of policing and crime services. (Police & Crime Commissioners feature quite a lot.) But there are also posts about the wider justice system. And because I am town councillor and political activist, local & national issues are covered a little, as well.

Friday, November 7, 2014

The sky is falling, the sky is falling!

Apart from Bristol & Doncaster, nine cities voted in May 2012 against the idea of an elected Mayor. The vote in Manchester (on a turn out of 24% - significantly higher than any PCC election) was 53.2% to 46.8% against the idea.

That was then, and this is now: George Osborne: Greater Manchester to have elected mayor (3 November 2014). Moreover the "mayor will oversee policies such as transport, social care and housing as well as police budgets".

Personally, I didn't know that referendum results had a half life which means that they can be ignored after approximately 30 months. (The Scottish Yes campaigners must be rubbing their hands in glee.)

I will leave it to people steeped in local government stuff to discuss the merits of this policy. Although I note today that several West Midlands councils have signed up to a "proposed alliance between Birmingham City Council, Walsall, Sandwell, Wolverhampton and Dudley authorities" and which "would serve a combined population of 3.4 million people". No mention of Mayors though.

What I do want to focus upon is the inclusion of police budgets as highlighted above. This seems to me to be a recognition that the PCC model is not working. Sp before complete panic sets in, the ever political, pragmatic & urbane Chancellor has come up with a Plan B. The sky is not quite yet falling on the model of the PCC (possibly soon to be credited to a UKIP MP), but it is getting close, very close.

(Of course the begging question is why did Mr Osborne sign the agreement, not Mr Pickles under whom local government comes...)

But back to the governance model, this decision in Manchester (which may or may not happen in its current form, depending on the general election result) will have sent ripples across the PCC world. If this can happen in Manchester, it can certainly happen in Newcastle/Gateshead/Middlesbrough, Bristol, greater Birmingham and Bristol to name but a few.

So are we seeing the beginning of the end of PCCs, even from the party of Government that introduced them? I suspect so and the manifesto will probably go further. 

I will watch this space...

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