£700,000 to pay off Merseyside Police & Crime Commissoner staff!

I have been looking at the accounts for Jane Kennedy, Merseyside’s Policing and Crime Commissioner for 2012/13 and was staggered to read that £697,211 had been spent during that accounting year on paying people off.

This a huge sum and it makes you wonder just what better use this money could have been put to. Surely using the money to support policing across Merseyside would be a much more positive use of £700,000.

The Liverpool Echo picked it up on this as well I note and it says:-

Row over £700,000 Mersey Police Authority compensation pay-outs

More than £400,000 was given out in redundancy payments to two top executives as part of a shake-up of the police authority by Merseyside Police and Crime Commissioner Jane Kennedy.

The pair, who were awarded £282,000 in “compensation for loss of office”, received in total more than £400,000 between them in “exit packages” shortly after Mrs Kennedy’s election in November last year.

While the former Wavertree MP said streamlining her office staff would mean cost savings in the future, critics questioned the pay-outs, which saw more than £700,000 paid out to the 12 officers who left between November 2012 and March this year.

Around half of the Police Authority staff were made redundant as part of cost-cutting measures, when the body was replaced with the Office of the Police Commissioner.

But Cllr Simon Shaw, who represents the Birkdale Ward and is a member of the Panel, questioned the amounts paid out. He said: “I am absolutely appalled that the Police Commissioner has spent nearly £700,000 in just four months on pay-offs to staff in her office.”

“It’s not quite at BBC levels, but I do feel it is a shocking use of public funds on the part of Jane Kennedy.”

Sefton Borough – Are our local Police Stations being considered for closure?

Here I am at Maghull Police Station but for how long will I be able to stand outside of it?

Here I am at Maghull Police Station but for how long will I be able to stand outside of it?

Having dragged out of Labour run Sefton Council’s undergrowth information, which they had sat on, about proposals to close Lydiate’s Ambulance Station recently (see previous postings), rumours from seemingly credible sources reached me about the potential closure of Police Stations in the Borough.

A worrying question indeed and when the rumours about such closures seem to be emanating from Merseyside Police it really makes you wonder what on earth is going on.

The Police Station which there seems to be most speculation about is the one in Maghull and despite having been in touch with the Police locally about the rumours I was still not clear about what’s going on beyond being told that an estates review is taking place. In the case of Maghull the very clear community speculation has been around the site being sold to Morrisons who are desperate to enlarge their adjacent store, which is far too small.

Separately, readers of this blog will also recall that when I dragged the Lydiate Ambulance Station closure into the open I openly said that co-location with Maghull Police Station could be a runner because that is where many police cars are maintained and the two sites are within a mile of each other. The response of North West Ambulance Service was that they had never even thought of this and had plumped for a site miles away at Netherton Fire Station instead to place their ‘local’ ambulance.

Anyway back to the Police Stations. It was time to write to Merseyside’s Police Commissioner, Labour’s Jane Kennedy, for a clear answer as to what is happening. My first letter to her is below:-

Dear Commissioner,

Re. Future of Maghull Police Station

I write due to continual rumours across the East Parishes part of Sefton that the site of Maghull Police Station is to be sold; indeed such rumours seem to be emanating from Police sources.

I have taken the matter up with our local Police Inspector who in turn has raised the matter for me with his command team.

What I am being told is that whilst there is a current Force Estates Review on going no proposals have been made, let alone decisions being imminent and that any decision such as the future of Maghull Police Station will not be taken without full widespread prior public consultation.

Can you please outline for me what is happening from your perspective as Merseyside Police Commissioner? Obviously, I would appreciate an assurance that Maghull Police Station is not under threat of closure.

Yours Sincerely

Cllr. Tony Robertson

Back comes a reply saying ‘Maghull Police Station is an operational police station and will remain so for the foreseeable future.’ However, she goes on to say that all aspects of Merseyside’s Police budget are under review including ‘maintenance of the current estate’.

Still not too clear to me what this means so I send Jane another polite letter trying to gain a little more information, such as what is her minimum length of time definition of ‘foreseeable’.

A second reply comes back and talk about curt and short! She says ‘foreseeable means as far as she can see at this time’, so no clear answer there then. In response to my request for where I can find further details of any decisions made to date on this matter her answer is ‘Under MPA’, which I assume means Merseyside Police Authority? And finally a clear(ish) answer to my request for a guarantee of public consultation if she does decided to close any Merseyside police stations – She says ‘There will be public consultation regarding estate provision’.

Frankly, I am disappointed in Jane’s answers to my second letter as she seems to be trying to give me, as a fellow elected public representative, as little information as she can, at least that’s how it looks to me. And please bear in mind that during Maghull’s ‘Mad March’ of gun crime, earlier this year, I posted on this very site that she had handled a difficult public meeting on the matter in Lydiate quite well.

Mm, maybe time to reassess her if, as I perceive, she is not being open enough about an issue, such as Police Station closures, which will have massive public concern around it, should it happen.

Merseyside Police Commissioner comes under fire over decision making figures

The Southport Visiter has the story.

http://www.southportvisiter.co.uk/southport-news/southport-southport-news/2013/06/27/merseyside-police-commissioner-comes-under-fire-over-decision-making-figures-101022-33530636/

MERSEYSIDE Police Crime Commissioner Jane Kennedy has come under fire after making just six decisions in five months.

The figures released in a national survey led two Southport councillors to question the role of the woman charged with tackling local crime.

Simon Shaw, a member of Merseyside Police and Crime Panel and a Birkdale councillor, led the criticisms at Southport’s Area Committee meeting last Wednesday. The complaints stemmed from an article written by Lib Dem leader Iain Brodie-Browne based on the survey’s findings, which posed the question ‘what does our Police Crime Commissioner do, exactly?’

Cllr Shaw said: “According to their own official websites some commissioners had taken 40, 50, or even more decisions in their first five months in office. In contrast Jane Kennedy had made just six reported decisions.”

Editor’s comment – From my perspective the fact that our Merseyside Police Commissioner has appointed a press secretary on £45K per year in the financial times that we find ourselves is simply wrong.

2 more shootings in Maghull and 1 in Bootle – ‘It’s like living in the wild west’

http://www.liverpooldailypost.co.uk/liverpool-news/regional-news/2013/03/15/9-30am-update-just-hours-after-merseyside-police-and-crime-commissioner-says-gun-crime-is-being-tackled-there-are-three-firearms-incidents-in-under-40-minutes-99623-32994745/

The Post (see above link) has the story of the latest shootings and one former resident of Maghull said to me today ‘My god whats happening in my old home town !!’

Well here we go again with 3 more shootings in Sefton in just one evening of criminal activity; you just could not make this up.

And it all happened just a couple of hours after Merseyside’s new Police and Crime Commissioner was speaking to worried residents in a school hall in Lydiate. She had been invited because of the first 3 shootings in Maghull but by the time she spoke at the meeting there had been a 4th, with 2 following the meeting.

To give Jane Kennedy her due she was very good at speaking to the meeting in Lydiate Primary School. I had half expected her to launch into some kind of speech that we hear from many Labour politicians these days along the lines of slagging off the government. But not a word of it and no party political remarks from her at all; that must have disappointed Bill Esterson’s staff who were there in force.

So Jane hit the right notes and she was ably assisted by two senior Police Officers. But despite their good showing it was obvious that many locals in the Maghull area are very unhappy about the recent spate of gun crime. What’s more the unhappy coincidence of two further shootings in Maghull (plus one in nearby Bootle) within hours of the meeting will only increase such concerns

I first started to raise my concerns about shootings in Sefton Borough a while ago (see previous postings) but recently I decided to do a Freedom of Information request to find out what has really been going on in the Borough in terms of gun crime and I will publish the results of my investigations very soon.

Having lived in the Maghull and Lydiate area since I was 10 this turn of events makes me wonder whether, as one resident said at last night’s meeting, we are living in the wild west!

PS. No sooner had I posted this piece than I got into conversation with a chap who is Maghull through and through and he told me how unimpressed he had been with Jane Kennedy on local radio today. I have not heard what she said on radio but having gained a round of applause last night she seems to have gained a boo from Mr. Maghull today. Nobody said it would be easy to tackle violent gun crime on Merseyside and she has a lot of people on her back right now who are expecting her to take decisive and effective action.