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Police and Crime Commissioner Simon Foster, has welcomed intervention from two prominent members of the House of Lords, who stepped into a debate about the Government’s Levelling Up Bill.

Both Lord Hunt of Kings Heath and Lord Bach, spoke in a Lords debate about the Bill, which could result in the West Midlands Mayor taking over control of policing without consent from local authorities – or the electorate.

They both warned that the plans were “ill-advised” and “depressing” and said it was taking away people’s right to vote.

West Midlands Police and Crime Commissioner Simon Foster said: “It was welcome to hear Lord Hunt and Lord Bach speak so passionately about the importance of a democratically elected and directly accountable Police and Crime Commissioner.

“The Mayor wants to try and takeover over West Midlands Police, despite Council Leaders rejecting these undemocratic plans only a few years ago. He wants to take away people’s right to vote and their right to exercise a choice. I am deeply concerned that this stitch up would enable the Mayor to deliver yet more of his government’s ill-advised, misconceived and poor decision making, that has already cost West Midlands Police 1,000 officers.

“If the Mayor intends to proceed with these reckless plans, he should have the decency to debate them in public. These issues are far too important to be left only to MPs at Westminster, most of whom have no connection with or interest in the West Midlands.”

During the debate, Lord Hunt said: “Clause 58 removes the requirement for the consent of all councils of a combined authority for the transfer of Police and Crime Commissioner functions to a combined authority Mayor—why?

“Could it be because, on 6 May 2021 the people of the West Midlands voted for a Labour Police and Crime Commissioner but the Conservative Mayor, Mr Andy Street, had wanted to be his own Police Commissioner?

“The constituent local authorities would not agree. Instead of respecting the views of those local authorities in the West Midlands, as well as of the electorate, who voted for Simon Foster to be the Police and Crime Commissioner, the Government want to allow Mr Street to single-handedly abolish our right in the West Midlands to vote for a democratically elected and directly accountable Police and Crime Commissioner.”

Lord Bach, himself a former Police and Crime Commissioner, added: “Why do we need Clause 59, which totally removes the right of combined authorities and constituent councils even to be consulted, and gives a mayor the sole, unfettered powers to take over that role?

“I am afraid the answer is simple and depressing, and I hate to have to say it, but it is obvious. The Conservative Government want the Mayor in the West Midlands to become the Police and Crime Commissioner.

“Unfortunately for them, as recently as 20 months ago, the electorate voted for a Labour Police and Crime Commissioner for the fourth election in a row.

“Equally unfortunately, a majority of members of the combined authority do not want this to happen. How do the Government get around this problem? Do they do it by seeking to change the law and, at the same time, quietly but efficiently and effectively take power away from the electorate?

“It is only in the West Midlands that this is a problem, but somehow it is worth a clause. This is not a course of action worthy of any Government. The clause should be removed from the Bill during the course of these proceedings.”

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