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Row erupts as West Midlands mayor launches 'hostile takeover' of police and crime commissioner's powers

A furious row has erupted between the West Midlands Mayor Andy Street and Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) Simon Foster after the mayor announced plans to take over PCC powers.

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Andy Street made the announcement on X, formerly Twitter, on Wednesday evening.

Simon Foster challenged Andy Street to ask the public what they wanted after the mayor confirmed that the Home Secretary has signed off on Police and Crime Commissioner duties being absorbed by the mayor’s office. The region’s Conservative mayor said last night: “My request for the Mayor to take on Police & Crime Commissioner powers from May has been agreed by the Home Secretary tonight.

“Crime has doubled in eight years and our force is now in special measures. We cannot go on like this. I’ll set out my plan of action in due course.”

But Labour’s Simon Foster called the plans a “hostile takeover” and urged the mayor to ask the public what they want.

In a hard-hitting statement he said: “I deeply disagree with the Mayor’s hostile takeover, because firstly, he is abolishing people’s right to vote, so that he can appoint one of his friends to the role instead; secondly, preventing, tackling and reducing crime will not be his top priority, and thirdly, this is a cynical and divisive power grab, that is in no-one’s interests save that of the Mayor.

“The Mayor has made this decision, because his party have stood for election to the role of Police and Crime Commissioner four times and been defeated every time. That is because his party is not trusted by the people of the West Midlands, to tackle and reduce crime.”

“The Mayor represents a government that has inflicted immense damage on policing, essential preventative public services and our criminal justice system for the past 13 years. That has contributed to a rise in crime. The last thing the people I represent need, is an apologist for this government’s appalling record on policing, taking on responsibility for policing governance.

“There is no local democratic support for this cynical and divisive power grab. The Mayor is attempting to achieve through the backdoor, what his Party have been incapable of achieving through the ballot box.

“I say, to Mayor Street: You still have an opportunity to put it to the people. Here is my challenge. Have the courage, the integrity and the principles – to put it to the people. Let the people decide, who they want to represent them as their Police and Crime Commissioner, at the election in May 2024.

“Let it be the people’s Vote: the People’s Choice and the People’s decision.”

Mayors in Manchester, London and West Yorkshire are already responsible for the governance and budgets of their police forces. But it’s currently not the case in the West Midlands.

It comes just days after West Midlands Police was put into special measures by inspectors following a series of what they saw as failings including poor investigations.