The Labour-controlled South Wales Police and Crime Panel – the body that’s supposed to oversee the activities of Labour Police and Crime Commissioner Alun Michael – has not been “robust” enough with him – its own members have now admitted.
The watchdog body – which is supposed to keep a close eye on Mr Michael and monitor what he’s up to – has , in effect, publicly admitted it hasn’t done the job it was set up to do 5 years ago.
No less that 7 members of the unelected 12-strong current panel are Labour Party councillors and there is no Conservative councillor on the panel at all – nor has there been since Labour Police and Crime Commissioner Alun Michael first took office in 2012. The current members of the panel are:-
- Bridgend County Borough Council = Cllr Richard Young (Labour)
- Cardiff Council = Cllr Kathryn Lloyd (Liberal Dem ) and Cllr Daniel De’Ath (Labour)
- Merthyr Tydfil County Borough Council = Cllr Ernie Galsworthy (Labour)
- Neath Port Talbot County Borough Council = Cllr Peter Rees (Labour)
- Rhondda Cynon Taf County Borough Council= Cllr Shelley Rees-Owen (Plaid) and Cllr Robert Smith (Labour)
- Swansea Council = Cllr Paulette Smith (Labour) and Cllr Gareth Sullivan (Independent)
- Vale of Glamorgan Council = Cllr Anne Moore (Labour)
The two so-called “independent members” – who are not required to state their political allegiances – are :
- Mr Martyn Jones
- Mr Melvin Jehu MBE (a former South Wales police superintendent)
According to the draft minutes of its most recent meeting ( which Alun Michael didn’t attend) the Police and Crime Panel admitted that “The Panel should be more robust and challenging in asking questions and holding to account” [ That means holding Mr Michael to account. The panel’s sole purpose is to oversee his activities] .
The so-called “independent members” also went on record to wish the mostly-Labour councillors on the Panel “Good Luck for the forthcoming elections “.
Critics have pointed out that the panel has done nothing but rubber-stamp all AlunMichael’s decisions – controversially decisions like the successive increases in the Police Precept (charged as part of Council Tax) which Mr Michael has hiked by well- above inflation every single year in which he has been in office.
Now however, following the local government elections, Vale of Glamorgan Labour councillor Anne Moore will be kicked out and will lose the fees and expenses associated with the job.
Anne Moore is the wife of former Vale Council Labour leader Neil Moore who held the job – and reaped the remuneration or claimable expenses – before making way for his wife)
Now, for the first time ever, at least 1 – and possibly 2 – Conservative councillors will be appointed to the panel – representing the Vale of Glamorgan and Cardiff Council .
Apart from – somewhat belatedly – aiming to get tougher with Alun Michael, the South Wales Police and Crime Panel is also now planning to:-
- raise the profile of the panel [ few people have ever heard of it]
- select a so-called “champion” from the panel for each “partner” with whom the police work
- write to what they call “the Policing Minister” [sic] to ask for more money.
The total South Wales Police Precept to 2017/18 – charged for as part of the local Council Tax Bills – rose by 5% in April to a record £105,382,518 .