Police and Crime Commissioner speaks of his plans

THE new Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) for Cleveland told The Northern Echo he hopes to save the tax-payer about £200,000 a year in running costs.

Barry Coppinger, who was elected to the newly created role last week, also defended the appointment of Ed Chicken as chief executive in his first week.

That move will cost his office £30,000 and has been described as "ill-advised" by outgoing police authority chairman, Stuart Drummond.

However Mr Coppinger said the move meant he could hit the ground running and establish his office quickly.

He also said that, unlike other new police commissioners, he would not appoint extra numbers of staff and would not have a special driver or any other trappings common to other areas.

Earlier Mr Coppinger had addressed the first meeting of the Police and Crime Panel for Cleveland, and said he would not appoint a deputy, again partly as a cost-saving measure.

He said: "The cost is a major factor. Also it is my belief that it was wrong to stand for election one day and appoint an unelected deputy the next day."

The appointment of Mr Chicken was controversial because the outgoing police authority chief executive, Stuart Pudney, had a £90,000 contract which was not due to expire until March, costing the chief commissioner's office an additional £30,000.

The new chief executive, Mr Chicken, will be on secondment from Middlesbrough Council where he worked in community safety for one year. During that time it is hoped the office will be established at a cheaper cost than the old police authority office.

Mr Coppinger told the panel he expected to ask for increase of two per cent in the police precept, the extra money paid to police from council tax payers, although other options were being considered at this stage.

He said: "I suppose at this time the two per cent precept increase is the likely scenario. Otherwise we may have to come back in future years to make it up but there's a chance to have a look at this issue."

Interviews for appointing a new chief constable will begin in January. The panel, which met at a committee room of Stockton Central Library, agreed to allow the public to ask questions at future meetings as long as individuals had agreed to provide notice of the questions beforehand.

The panel also agreed to write the Home Secretary to support a request made by the Devon and Cornwall police panel to more time to set the council tax precept in future years. A new logo was also agreed upon.

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