Posted by: John Brace | 13th April 2020

Phil Davies faced grilling by Merseyside Police and Crime Panel as preferred candidate for Deputy Police and Crime Commissioner post

Phil Davies faced grilling by Merseyside Police and Crime Panel as preferred candidate for Deputy Police and Crime Commissioner post

                                     

By John Brace (Editor)
and
Leonora Brace (Co-Editor)

Phil Davies (Merseyside Police and Crime Panel) confirmation hearing 9th April 2020 Deputy Police and Crime Commissioner from a still of a video filmed by Knowsley Council

Phil Davies (Merseyside Police and Crime Panel) confirmation hearing 9th April 2020 Deputy Police and Crime Commissioner from a still of a video filmed by Knowsley Council

Just over a week ago, new regulations (as a result of the coronavirus pandemic) called the Local Authorities and Police and Crime Panels (Coronavirus) (Flexibility of Local Authority and Police and Crime Panel Meetings) (England and Wales) Regulations 2020 allowed local government public meetings in England and Wales to take place not in person in the same room but as remote or virtual meetings.

Last Thursday morning (9th April 2020) Knowsley Council (who are the Host Authority for the Merseyside Police and Crime Panel) held such a public meeting virtually which was a confirmation hearing of the preferred candidate Phil Davies for the post of Deputy Police and Crime Commissioner for Merseyside. You can watch video of that public part of that public meeting below (which lasted for around an hour and twenty minutes). As far as I know it was the only public meeting of local government held this way, even though the regulations referred to earlier also apply to Wirral Council, Liverpool City Council, Merseyside Fire and Rescue Authority, Liverpool City Region Combined Authority etc.

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Merseyside Police and Crime Panel (9th April 2020) Deputy Police and Crime Commissioner Confirmation Hearing – Phil Davies

Any article I wrote would, as the meeting was an hour and twenty minutes leave something out. However the existing Police and Crime Commissioner Jane Kennedy (whose term of office has been extended by a year due to the May 2020 elections being cancelled) recommended Phil Davies to the Merseyside Police and Crime Panel for the part-time post of Deputy Police and Crime Commissioner.

Therefore the questions from the councillors and independent member (there are legally supposed to be two independent members so I’m not sure why there is only one) on the Merseyside Police and Crime Panel were to Phil Davies about his suitability for the role.

As regular readers of this blog will know, Phil Davies had been a councillor at Wirral Metropolitan Borough Council from May 1991 to May 2019.

The previous Deputy Police and Crime Commissioner Cllr Emily Spurrell had resigned (effective from the 18th March 2019) giving the reason at the time that the existing Police and Crime Commissioner Jane Kennedy had left the Labour Party. Cllr Emily Spurrell is now the Labour candidate for Police and Crime Commissioner for Merseyside (the election has been delayed from May 2020 to May 2021).

The reason this matters is that a motion passed recently at the Labour North West Regional Board prior to the confirmation hearing (circulated to all Wirral Labour Party members) stated that “This Board further believes that should any member of the Labour Party accept appointment as Deputy Police and Crime Commissioner in Merseyside, it would bring the Labour Party into disrepute.” and it is assumed by the author of this piece that Phil Davies is still a member of the Labour Party.

However – moving on from the party politics and back to the public meeting itself. Phil Davies answered questions from those on the Merseyside Police and Crime Panel about his time as a councillor between 1991 and 2019 as well as his Council appointed roles on outside bodies such as the Liverpool City Region Combined Authority and Wirral Mulicultural Organisation.

Phil Davies was also asked to apologise for Wirral Council’s response to the New Ferry gas explosion that happened in 2017 (which he refused to apologise for).

He was also questioned about his former roles whether individually or through collective Cabinet responsibility (mainly in the last decade at Wirral Council) in relation to safeguarding of children, corporate governance failings, retired Wirral Council employee benefits and other policy or operational matters.

In answer to a question about political oversight and a perceived deficit of corporate governance at Wirral Council asked by Cllr Jennings about the 2011-2012 period, Phil Davies answered, “I think we saw, we saw signs that you know things were going wrong. Errm, but I really, I think it took errm, it took some pretty kind of hard-hitting external reports to say this is the extent of the challenge that you’ve got ahead and I took the view is my view was very clear you know. We shouldn’t be in denial, don’t try to defend the indefensible. Errm take the advice, take the errm the sort of lessons that would be, that we need to learn from external experts like the LGA and move on from there. Don’t try to cover things up or sweep things under the carpet. So you know at the time I was very open, as yes we’ve got all of these challenges and failings. The priority now is to move forward and address them, so that was my philosophy and approach errm you know when we had that challenge.”

The part-time Deputy Police and Crime Commissioner post was not advertised and it appeared that Phil Davies was on a longlist and shortlist of one on the recommendation of Jane Kennedy (although somewhat cryptically one councillor referred to three other approved candidates).

After the meeting, Knowsley Council will publish on their website the report and letter of the Merseyside Police and Crime Panel about the preferred candidate for Deputy Police and Crime Commissioner within 5 working days of the meeting (at the time of writing this hasn’t happened yet). It will then be down to the existing Police and Crime Commissioner Jane Kennedy as to whether she appoints Phil Davies as Deputy Police and Crime Commissioner.

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Responses

  1. Dear John talk about jobs for the boys, were there any other candidates? or was it the old boys network working it magic. Based on his miserable track record in council the worst being the New Ferry disaster which due to the councils delays no money was coming forward from central government, and he blamed central government for it. The council could have stumped up instead they lent upwards of £50 million pounds to other Labour councils at stupidly low rates. there are many other failings on his watch whilst he and his fellow Labour councillors in charge of Wirral council.

    • Thanks for your comment Jonathan Hardaker.

      As far as anyone can tell, the post wasn’t openly advertised. Phil Davies was asked to do it, wanted to do it so ended up being the Police and Crime Commisioner’s preferred candidate.

      I’m not sure what the three approved candidates comment relates to – as the post has been vacant for around a year – it may be in relation to something that happened before Phil was asked.

  2. ex Cllr Phil Davies should never hold any public office again after years of neglect in Birkenhead behind the publics back stopped local children from having a free swim every day during holidays TO HELP OCCUPYI THEM, while preparing Europa pools for closure to make way for wine bars & etc that nobody want a 1,200 petition stopped it buy locals,ignoring the needs of children being abused by 2 local shop keeping brothers for over 2 years to selling off taxpayers land to his cohorts for peanuts failing to apply to central gov for £55 million grant for the benefit of b/head because they failed to apply for it in time ⌚ there is lots & lots & lots more any contact with police should be to investigate him & his cronies sooner not later. OH loans to other local councils are in excess 0f £ 73 million the should be spent on Birkenhead & Wirral other councils use the bank for loans like we have to instead of propping each other up councils are their to serve the public not over inflated egos of self serving councillors !!!! roll on the next local election !!!! price st resident disgusted.

    • Thanks for your comment Mr John Davies.

      Elections of councillors on the Wirral, Police and Crime Commissioner and Liverpool City Region Combined Authority Mayor were originally scheduled for a few weeks time (May 2020) but have been put back to May 2021 because of the coronavirus pandemic.

  3. IT SEEMS THE WORSE YOU ACT IN PUBLIC OFFICE THE BETTER THE OFFER OF JOBS such as assistant crime commissioner on Merseyside you cudnt make it up their offering him £ 35.00 a year + expenses that makes all the difference but their is more his working week is only 3 days on 4 days off you cant make it up ,he,s not been interviewed yet & it looks like an exercise in crossing the T,S & DOTTING THE iiiiiiiiii s.??

  4. £ 35.000 a year am fuming me.!!!!!!

    • Thanks for your comment John. The Deputy Police and Crime Commissioner post is paid £32,796 a year (which is a little less than £35,000 a year).

  5. Do we really need a Police Commissioner and Deputy, and then they will need assistants, just a waste of tax payers money once again, rather have a few extra coppers on the street!

    Also when they have virtual conferencing do they still pick up their fee for attending meetings?

  6. I love the link to the shameful Klonowski report attached to the “…sweep things under the carpet.” quoted dialogue; very pertinent…. I remember this statement only too well during the viewing of the ‘interview’ (or will it just turn out to be another box-ticking exercise in local government ‘fait accompli’?)

    Your comments on your YouTube channel suggesting that ex-Cllr Davies rewrote the history of his tenure during the interview were an accurate summary of the proceedings.

    There seems to be no shame displayed by controversial executive staff from local government for their historical under-performance. Perhaps the over-used “lessons learned” mantra is a self-righting spell for wiping the slate clean and resetting the ‘second chance’ tally? It has an unnerving way of working its magic within the tiers of local government where seemingly there are no limits for forgiveness to the sins of their brotherhood.

    It is a good job we can rely on our memories when the bad apples float back up masquerading as fit for consumption.

    • Thanks for your comment.

      Originally I had just used the “sweep things under the carpet” quote in a much shorter paragraph – but in the editorial process it was decided to check the video for what Phil Davies actually said and I then decided to put it in context so there wouldn’t be an accusation of quoting partial sentences to make a political point.

      I too remember the Anna Klonowski report days.

      As to the YouTube comments – I tried to be fair (but ultimately the historical record is there for all to see and form an opinion on).

      I’m not sure if you have read it, but a Liverpool Echo article published today stated that Phil Davies was withdrawing his application to be Deputy Police and Crime Commissioner.

      • That is good news to read. Those concerned must have known the toxic nature of such an appointment following through to the Crime Commissioner’s wishes.

        • Thanks for your comment.

          I expect the Merseyside Police and Crime Panel report on the preferred candidate for Deputy Police and Crime Commissioner for Merseyside will be published by Monday and may make interesting reading.

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