West Midlands Mayor and PCC to go head-to-head in powers debate
Never mind Theresa May v Jeremy Corbyn, it's time for Andy Street v David Jamieson.
The West Midlands Mayor looks set to go head-to-head with the region's Police and Crime Commissioner in a debate over the merging of the two roles.
Tory Mayor Andy Street wants to take control of policing as part of the region's new devolution deal with the Government.
The transfer of powers, which is currently out for consultation, is due to come into effect by 2020 at the time of the next mayoral election.
But Labour PCC David Jamieson is against the move, saying it could lead to 'financial chaos' for West Midlands Police due to the potential for funds earmarked for policing being diverted elsewhere.
Mr Jamieson has challenged the Mayor to a head-to-head debate on the issue – and Mr Street has strongly suggested he is up for it.
The PCC said: "This proposed transfer of powers is a significant change in the way policing is governed in the West Midlands.
"I have raised concerns and questions which have yet to be answered around this. Hopefully we would get those answers in a debate.
"I hope Mr Street will join me for a debate to seek the answers the people of the West Midlands deserve."
Asked what he thought the chances were of a debate taking place, Mr Street said: "I suspect they're quite good."
Mr Street says merging the roles would help improve cooperation between the region’s emergency and public services, save cash and provide clearer accountability.
He would appoint a Deputy mayor for policing and crime.
Mr Jamieson, who has announced he is standing down in 2020, said that as well as being concerned about funding, he also feared the Mayor's office would not have the 'laser-like focus' required to challenge the police when necessary.
The consultation closes on January 11. It can be viewed here: www.wmca.org.uk/policeconsultation