Lib Dem Councillors on Surrey's Police and Crime Panel have criticised the Surrey Police and Crime Commissioner for appointing a £53,550 a year Deputy against the views of the cross-party Police and Crime Panel.
The Police and Crime Commissioner, Lisa Townsend, and her proposed Deputy Police and Crime Commissioner, Ellie Vesey-Thompson, recently attended a confirmation hearing with the Police and Crime Panel and answered questions from Panel members on her suitability for the role.
Miss Vesey-Thompson admitted she had limited experience of policing, but that she would build on her experience of working with young people. Asked about her longer-term career plans, Miss Vesey-Thompson said she intended to return to law school after her role ended. However, she would continue to be involved in political campaigning for the Conservative Party during the appointment.
During the confirmation hearing, the Commissioner told the Panel she had been under no obligation to tell voters of the proposed appointment during the election campaign, despite deciding to appoint Miss Vesey-Thompson at an early stage. She had not undertaken any formal recruitment process, in reliance on the exemption in Government rules for political appointments.
Following this hearing, the Panel wrote to the Commissioner recommending against the appointment of the proposed Deputy, however she decided to press ahead with the appointment regardless of the Panel's concerns.
Cllr Paul Kennedy, who represents Mole Valley District Council on the Police and Crime Panel, said:
"I think the decision to press ahead with appointing a Deputy Commissioner, against the advice of the Panel, is wrong. It creates a further crisis of legitimacy for the Conservatives' deeply flawed and derided PCC model."
"The new Commissioner failed to tell voters of the proposed appointment during the election campaign and has relied on an exemption in Government rules which means there is no obligation to appoint a Deputy on merit, and no restriction on their continuing political activities."
Cllr Will Forster, leader of Surrey County Council Liberal Democrats and Woking representative on the panel, said:
"£53,550 is a huge salary for a Conservative Party activist with no senior management or policing experience, which will come out of Surrey's police budget, paid for by council taxpayers. This public money could have been spent on actually policing, but instead it will be used to fund the political career of another Conservative Party politician."