WIGAN’S Police and Crime Commissioner has hit back at claims that his appointment of a deputy is “nothing more than Labour Party cronyism”.
Last week, PCC Tony Lloyd, a former Labour MP, announced Manchester City Council representative Jim Battle as his understudy in a £55,000 role.
Former Wigan mayor Michael Winstanley – who stood against Mr Lloyd in last year’s PCC elections – told the Evening Post that the appointment was a case of “jobs for the Labour Party boys”.
Mr Winstanley said: “I could have understood if Tony Lloyd had given the role to someone who had a specialist working knowledge of the police, but to give it to a Labour councillor is scandalous.
“From their last 13 year stint in government the Labour Party has got form for cronyism and it looks like they are carrying it out locally as well.
“This means we have a PCC and deputy earning £155,000 between them. I am sure the people of Greater Manchester will be disgusted with this appointment.”
Coun Battle, who was born in West Yorkshire and has family ties in Wigan, beat 16 applicants to the role.
An independent panel was convened to whittle the candidates down to three before Mr Lloyd took part in the interview process.
He said: “I stayed out of the process entirely until the very end in order to show that it was properly independent. The two other candidates I saw were credible, experienced people who I could also have worked with.
“But Jim was the best candidate for the job. Anyone who doubts Jim Battle’s knowledge and experience in the crime and disorder reduction field should look at his application which is on our website.
“This sets out Jim’s record in a great deal of detail. Dismissing him as ‘just’ a politician ignores his considerable background, experience and track record.
“I’m very pleased to be working with him as I am confident he will work hard on behalf of all of the people of Greater Manchester.
“What he delivers will be the test the public will apply to him.”
Mr Lloyd also emphasised that the salary for Coun Battle would come out of the PCC’s budget, which works out at eight per cent less than the previous Police Authority’s budget.
Mr Winstanley added: “This £55,000 could have been spent on frontline policing, that is what the people would rather have seen.
“The deputy role is unnecessary.”