Hull councillors walk out of first PCC meeting – after five minutes
THREE members of a panel set up to oversee the region's new police and crime commissioner walked out of its first meeting in a row over its legality.
Hull Labour councillors Colin Inglis and Helena Spencer and Liberal Democrat Mike Ross left the inaugural meeting of the police and crime panel after five minutes.
They have written to Home Secretary Theresa May warning her the panel risks becoming "unlawful" if it includes three councillors from each of the four local authorities making up Humberside.
Speaking at yesterday's meeting, Mr Inglis said: "We have written to the Home Secretary and will be seeking further legal advice.
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"We may well see you in the High Court."
Legislation requires a minimum of ten members, which the shadow panel formed before Conservative Matthew Grove was elected as the first police and crime commissioner.
Based on population areas, the panel comprised three councillors from Hull, three from the East Riding and two each from the South Bank councils.
However, the panel's South Bank councillors joined forces with their East Riding counterparts to suggest expanding the panel to 12, with equal representation from each authority.
Under that proposal, overall political control would switch from Labour to Conservative.
Home Secretary Theresa May will have to approve the plans to extend the panel.
Members of the panel will have the power to veto Mr Grove's budget and his appointment of a new chief constable.
Mr Inglis, who was chairman of the shadow panel set up before Mr Grove took office last week, said the city councillors may consider taking legal action. He said: "Our view is the panel is improperly and potentially unlawfully constituted, so we have withdrawn for the moment.
"We are taking further advice on these issues and we may be forced into a position where we have to take legal action to correct the mistakes."
Members of the panel voted to elect East Riding Tory councillor David Rudd as chairman over Mr Inglis shortly before the walkout.
North Lincolnshire councillor Trevor Foster said members of the panel were "losing the will to live" when the issue was discussed at the last meeting.
He said the minutes of the meeting – which say Mr Inglis was not challenged when he said having three members from each authority was out of order – were inaccurate.
"If that is left in and we stand up in court, we have a statement there that does not reflect the mood of the meeting and that everything he said was challenged," said Mr Foster.
"He wasn't challenged by the end because we were losing the will to live."
Speaking at the meeting, Mr Foster said: "He was making negative statements throughout the meeting, making veiled threats and possibly trying to intimidate us."
The panel will be meeting again before Christmas to discuss the appointment of a deputy police and crime commissioner.
Mr Grove will be writing to the panel with details of whom he intends to appoint as his deputy. The panel will then question the candidate at a public meeting, before deciding whether to approve the appointment.