Cheshire Police and Crime Panel refuse to support appointment of £75,000 Chief of Staff

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Police & Crime Commissioner David Keane is delighted to announce that Mr Peter Astley MBE has been appointed as the new Chief of Staff for the Office of the Police & Crime Commissioner (OPCC) undertaking the role of head of the Commissioner's staff.

Mr Astley previously worked alongside David Keane at Warrington Borough Council where he held the position of Assistant Director of Regulation and Protection until he resigned in March 2017.

A statement from the Commissioner's Office said Mr Astleys' appointment to this role, which has a salary range of between £75,841 and £79,890, came "after a rigorous recruitment process which included a paper application, shortlisting, medical, personality questionnaires and police vetting".

Following the recruitment process Mr Astley attended a confirmation hearing with the Cheshire Police and Crime Panel, which maintains a regular check and balance on the performance of the Commissioner. However, they refused to endorse his appointment.

Councillor Howard Murray, Chairman of the Cheshire Police and Crime Panel, wrote to the Police & Crime Commissioner David Keane following the hearing saying "It is with great regret that the Cheshire Police and Crime Panel cannot on this occasion support your candidate for the position of Chief of Staff for the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner for Cheshire. This was an unanimous decision of the Panel following the Confirmation Hearing held on the evening of Wednesday 12 July in Winford."

Councillor Murray added a separate document containing a summary of the principle reasons for the decision taken by the Cheshire Police and Crime Panel but this has not been placed in the public domain.

Councillor Howard Murray told me "The Panel has received formal LGA guidance as well as legal advice from CEC that the Annex should not be published. This was known before the hearing and hence the reason why the Panel's rationale for their recommendation was attached as an Annex.

"The Panel examined the candidate's suitability across two broad categories: professional competence and personal independence.

"On this occasion Panel members represented three of the four Cheshire Boroughs, were cross party and included two Independent persons (not Cllrs). Many of us have extensive experience of the policing landscape and 4 of those at the confirmation hearing have previously been members of the Police Authority."

Police & Crime Commissioner David Keane, who earns £75,000, is supported by an office of 11 staff including the Deputy Police and Crime Commissioner Sareda Dirir who earns £50,000.

The other members of staff are Chief Finance Officer, Head of Governance, Head of Policy and Partnerships, Commissioning Officer Community & Safety, Commissioning Officer Victims, Communications Officer, Performance Analyst, Governance Officer, Senior Administration Officer and Administration Officer.

On announcing the appointment Commissioner David Keane said: "Peter Astley is a high achieving and dedicated senior leader in the public sector who has a wealth of experience at leading high profile and important regulatory services such as planning, licensing and environmental health. Peter not only has exceptional leadership skills, that are directly relevant to the role of Chief of Staff, but also has considerable experience in working closely with the police at a local, regional, national and international level."

Mr Keane continued: "Peter performed exceptionally well throughout the recruitment process and was consistently the highest scoring candidate. I am aware that following their hearing the members of Police & Crime Panel in attendance made the decision not to recommend appointment; however, on this occasion the Panel's recommendation is against the outcome and findings of a robust recruitment exercise. The Stakeholder Interview Panel, which was attended by the Chief Constable (and Chair of the Criminal Justice Board), the Chief Fire Officer, the Chair of the Fire Authority, a local authority Deputy Leader as well as the Vice Chair of the Police & Crime Panel, provided very positive feedback. This also translated to interview where Mr Astley performed exceptionally well and was the highest scoring candidate."

The Panel maintains a regular check and balance on the performance of the Commissioner.

Tags:
Cheshire Police & Crime Commissioner, David Keane
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Comments

Here's what readers have had to say so far. Why not add your thoughts below.

Glenn Hudson
Sunday 23rd July 2017 at 8:51 pm
But not enough money for the police themselves. A disgusting waste of tax payers money. Ever expanding bureaucracy. Should be ashamed of themselves.
Alan Brough
Monday 24th July 2017 at 7:19 am
If the Commissioner and his deputy can't manage a staff of 11 without having to recruit a former colleague on a high salary to perform the role of Chief Of Staff, they should seriously consider their positions......or we should.
John Clegg
Tuesday 25th July 2017 at 6:26 pm
This must be some really important work.
£200,000 + expenses for 3 members if staff.
Chief of 11 staff: that'll be an over-paid office manager, then, or an "administrator".
Adrian Scott
Tuesday 25th July 2017 at 7:04 pm
Having had 25 years as a volunteer in Cheshire Constabulary, thirteen years as Chief Officer Special Constabulary, I am quite frankly sickened by the behaviour of this Commissioner. He has moved his office from headquarters (How can he therefore do his job), he has employed two very expensive people; who in my personal opinion, are there to do his job for him. He is not supported by the Police and Crime Panel, and quite frankly should resign. Unfortunately, the government have no mechanism to remove him (Currently) but as a publicly appointed person, we should be holding him to account in respect of all his actions. I will be writing to Amber Rudd to investigate the means by which these elected personnel can be removed.
David Hadfield
Wednesday 26th July 2017 at 11:13 am
I totally agree with Adrian Scott's comments above.
Get rid of this overpaid and arrogant Police Commissioner as soon as possible !
Claire MacLeod
Wednesday 26th July 2017 at 5:24 pm
Hang on. I'm getting deja vu here. Is this not simply a repeat of what happened when the Police Commissioner appointed his 'Deputy' back in March? http://bit.ly/2vJRJoT

If I remember correctly, the issue was contentious because the newly created £50K role was handed to someone who had known the Commissioner for many years (a matter that had been conveniently glossed over at the time of recruitment), and whose skills and experience were not considered a good fit for the requirements of the post.

At the time, nothing could be done to prevent the unsuitable appointment, as the 'successful' candidate did not have a criminal record. But it caused enough of a furore for there to be media coverage of the questionable decision, particularly when one considers these appointments are at a cost to the taxpayer. And yet, just four months later, here we are again. At what point is this Police Commissioner going to be held accountable for his reckless job creation scheme for friends and ex colleagues?
David Hadfield
Wednesday 26th July 2017 at 10:00 pm
Phew, never thought I'd be agreeing with Claire MacLeod, but on this occasion Claire is spot-on ..... Well Done Claire. I heartily agree with your comments.

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