Labour’s local Police Commissioner, Jane Kennedy, has come under attack from the cross-party Merseyside Police Panel which oversees her, for her recent controversial decision to appoint a Labour Liverpool councillor as her Deputy – a part-time position for which the annual full time equivalent rate of pay is £53,000 per year.
Meeting just over a week ago, the Police Panel grilled Commissioner Jane Kennedy and her nominee, Labour councillor Ann O’Byrne about the proposed appointment. Councillors expressed worries that the move smacked of the very “cronyism” highlighted by Parliament’s Home Affairs Committee in a report published earlier in May.
In their report about the proposed appointment the Panel voiced their concerns about the whole recruitment process, stating that “The panel felt it was in the public interest for a new appointment process to be carried out . . . particularly as this position would be remunerated from the public purse.”
Birkdale (Sefton) Lib Dem councillor Simon Shaw is a member of the Merseyside Police Panel and was among those who raised concerns with both Jane Kennedy and Cllr O’Byrne. He said he was appalled at some of the responses given to the Panel:
“In particular, Jane Kennedy quite openly stated in public session that membership of the Labour Party was a key requirement of the position. If that isn’t cronyism, I don’t know what is.”
“I also asked both of them for an assurance that Cllr Ann O’Byrne would be standing down from her current, well-remunerated positions as Assistant Executive Mayor and Cabinet Member for Housing on Liverpool City Council. They both refused to give that assurance.”
“In my view the detailed questioning revealed that Mrs Kennedy had simply not thought this through. The post was unadvertised; there was no proper open recruitment process; there is no clarity as to how Cllr O’Byrne can actually “deputise” and there is no financial provision for the post, even though the Police Commissioner agreed her Budget just 3 months ago.”
“That’s why the Panel effectively said ‘Go back to the drawing board”!” added Cllr Shaw.
However, in a snub to the Panel, Jane Kennedy has now appointed Cllr O’Byrne with immediate effect to the 3 day a week position. Pay for the post is £31,800 pa which equates to a full time equivalent salary of £53,000 a year. Taking account of her allowances as a councillor, Cabinet Member and Assistant Executive Mayor on Liverpool City Council, the Labour politician’s total pay from public funds now amounts to £56,000 a year.