Taxpayers in Sunderland ‘will not pick up the tab for electing Dame Vera Baird’s replacement as Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC)’
Taxpayers in Sunderland will not be forced to pick up the bill to elect a new Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC), it has been confirmed.
Earlier this month, Dame Vera Baird, who currently has responsibility for overseeing Northumbria Police, announced she was stepping down from the role.
The move prompted some concerns her decision could see the region made to cover the costs of appointing her successor.
But following a question answered in Parliament yesterday, the government has confirmed it will fund the process.
Justice Minister Edward Argar said: “The role of the Victims’ Commissioner is greatly valued across the justice system and the Government welcomes the recent appointment of Dame Vera Baird QC to the role.
“Dame Vera’s appointment was made in line with the Governance Code for Public Appointments which prescribes that all public appointments should be governed by the principle of appointment on merit.
“An assessment of the costs of a by-election was not factored into the appointment process.
“A Police and Crime Commissioner by-election will be run by a statutorily independent Returning Officer and will be funded out of the Consolidated Fund.”
The ‘consolidated fund’ is money the government receives from general taxation and which is used to fund public services.
The question was raised last week (Tuesday, May 14) by Liberal Democrat MP Layla Moran at the request of the Sunderland branch of the party.
Dame Vera, who was elected as the area’s first PCC in 2012, confirmed earlier this month (May) she would stand down in June after accepting the role of national Victims’ Commissioner.
The leader of Sunderland’s Liberal Democrat group, Coun Niall Hodson, said: “It is reassuring that, following Lib Dem intervention in Parliament, the Government have agreed that local council services and local policing won’t suffer from further funding pressures by having to fork out for this unnecessary and unwanted by-election.
“However, it is still the case that taxpayers generally will be paying for a costly election for a post that nobody wants and that hardly anyone votes in.
“The whole situation is absurd.
“The Government should accept that Police and Crime Commissioners are a failed experiment and now ditch them for Northumbria and all other police force areas.
“The funding for elections, the Commissioner and their offices and expenses would be much better spent being ploughed back into frontline policing.”
James Harrison , Local Democracy Reporting Service