Examination of Witness

Part of Levelling-up and Regeneration Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 2:05 pm on 23rd June 2022.

Alert me about debates like this

Andy Street:

I think the reason you have had a lot of interest in this is that we are in a different position to the other very large combined authorities. It is interesting why that has come about. You thanked me for my candour earlier on; I will give you my candour again on this. The situation here, unlike in Manchester, London and Leeds, is that the Mayor does not have the police and crime commissioner responsibilities. It was obviously imposed—I shall use that word—on those three areas through their deals. When our deal was struck, it was subject to local agreement. Despite a public consultation that came out overwhelmingly in favour of a merger of the two roles, the board decided that that was not what was going to happen. I regret the fact that that board decision was split on party lines. I said earlier that we always try to find consensus, but this is the one issue where we did not find it. That is, I think, why you have had input, because it remains a contentious issue. My personal view is, as it has always been, that there is enormous advantage to the model of one single accountable person. There is clear evidence that that has worked in other areas, and where we have not yet achieved that, we are slightly weaker for it.

Having said that, we have done two things here. Both the police and crime commissioner and myself, although from different parties, have committed that we will work as effectively as we can together. The second thing is that I have always committed that, so long as the rules were the same, we would not reopen this issue. Of course, the Bill changes the rules, and therefore it will, potentially, give an opportunity for this issue to be reopened. Hence the correspondence you have received.