PCC does not rule out legal action on Home Secretary’s ‘flawed’ consultation
The West Midlands police and crime commissioner (PCC) has written to the Home Secretary requesting that he withdraws a “flawed consultation” into plans to merge the roles of the PCC and the mayor to avoid the need for legal action.
Simon Foster says if it is not withdrawn he will have no alternative but to seek a judicial review.
He disagrees with the Government’s plans to transfer the powers of the PCC to the mayor and has called on the Government to abandon its “hostile takeover plans”.
In his letter to the Home Secretary, Mr Foster highlights how a “surprise public consultation”, launched just before Christmas, does not adhere to the requirements for a lawful consultation.
He said: “I have repeatedly advised the Government and the mayor not to proceed with this cynical, divisive and undemocratic power grab, yet they have refused to listen.
“I have written to the Home Secretary requesting that he withdraws the flawed consultation into plans to merge the roles of the PCC and the mayor. I trust that is exactly what he will do in order to avoid the need for legal action.
“The consultation was hastily launched by the Government because I forced the Home Secretary and the mayor into a humiliating climb down.
“It is now clear that the consultation itself is flawed and needs to be withdrawn. If it is not, I will have no alternative but to seek a judicial review to defend democracy and the rights of the people I represent.”
Mr Foster said a judicial review will involve a judge examining whether a decision made by a public body complies with the law.
“It specifically looks at whether the public body has acted lawfully, rather than determining whether a change is right or wrong,” he added.
Mr Foster said the West Midlands Mayor Andy Street has also refused to publicly debate his planned takeover of the PCC powers.
Mr said he has twice written to the mayor to invite him to hold three public debates across the West Midlands to raise awareness of the planned takeover and help the public form a view on the takeover, so they can contribute to the last-minute consultation being run by the Home Secretary.
“But Mayor Street has refused to take part. Instead, he has set out a series of conditions that he wants met before agreeing to publicly debate his plans,” said Mr Foster.
He added: “The deadline has passed and Mayor Street has failed to accept my challenge to a public debate.
“It is common sense that a public debate must take place between myself as the PCC and the Mayor – and that must be within the existing consultation period so as to achieve the aims of raising awareness, understanding our respective positions and encouraging participation.
“Although the mayor states he is ‘keen’ and ‘more than happy’ to participate in the proposed series of debates, he then raises a range of excuses as to why he is unable to do so. That is simply not good enough.
“The mayor is either prepared to engage in public debate with me or he is not. He either has the courage of his convictions or he does not. He either respects the people of the West Midlands and is prepared to state his case in public debate or he is not.
“I believe that the people of the West Midlands will draw their own conclusions from the mayor’s refusal to accept my challenge to a public debate on plans he is determined to force through by any means necessary.”