THE man currently in charge of Merseyside’s police authority has put himself in the running to become the county’s first crime commissioner.
Cllr Bill Weightman (pictured) has been a staunch critic of the coalition government plans to disband the current system of local police governance and replace an elected democratic board with a single figure – a US-style Police and Crime Commissioner.
The 54-year-old Stockbridge Village councillor says he has “thought long and hard” about taking the step but yesterday, on the last day for Labour party members to make their intentions to run known, he put his name forward.
Cllr Weightman has been part of Merseyside Police Authority for 18 years and chairman for nine.
Should Cllr Weightman win the backing of his party in an internal vote, he will have to quit the police authority under the rules of the PCC election.
He said “I have had to give this a lot of serious thought because I have never been supportive of commissioners and I still have grave concerns about the future of policing under these plans, particularly as we are approaching the 11th hour with no clear guidance about what they will be expected to do and how.
“Continuity will be the key here and I want to make sure it doesn’t all go pear-shaped within the commissioner’s first term.
“We face difficult times on Merseyside and in policing nationally and if someone comes in without the knowledge and the experience of that the future could be a very uncertain one.
“After all my time on the authority there’s not much I don’t know about policing.”
Cllr Weightman will go up against former MPs Jane Kennedy and Peter Kilfoyle and veteran Sefton councillor Les Byrom for the local Labour nomination.
Each political party is expected to put forward a candidate, with others standing as independents, and the public will take to the polls in November to elect Merseyside’s first Crime Commissioner.
The winning candidate will be rewarded with a four-year term and a salary of £85,000 and will have to work with the local Chief Constable to shape local policing plans and objectives.