Caretaker police and crime commissioner Ray Bisby offered a less than ringing endorsement by chairman of the panel that appointed him

PUBLISHED: 16:24 28 November 2019 | UPDATED: 08:13 29 November 2019

Edward Leigh (left) chair of the police and crime panel who confirmed the appointment of Cllr Ray Bisby (centre) to be interim police and crime commissioner after Jason Ablewhite (right) quit. Picture; ARCHANT

Edward Leigh (left) chair of the police and crime panel who confirmed the appointment of Cllr Ray Bisby (centre) to be interim police and crime commissioner after Jason Ablewhite (right) quit. Picture; ARCHANT

Archant

The independent chairman of the panel that appointed Ray Bisby to be the £7,000 a month acting police and crime commissioner says he "probably wouldn't" be their choice on a more permanent basis.

Edward Leigh is the co-opted chairman of the Cambridgeshire Police and Crime Panel that rubber stamped Mr Bisby's appointment on Wednesday following the sudden departure of Jason Ablewhite.

"We wish Councillor Bisby well in this new role and look forward to working with him over the next five months," said Mr Leigh.

But in a BBC Radio Cambridgeshire interview with Drivetime host Ronnie Barbour his enthusiasm for the appointment was subdued.

"He doesn't necessarily have all of the qualities that the elected commissioner would be expected to have so the feeling was that he was fine as a caretaker," said Mr Leigh.

But he added: "He probably wouldn't have been the choice of the panel to be the commissioner if it was our choice but that is the electorate's choice."

Mr Bisby, who said he won't be appointing an interim deputy, will however draw the full police and crime commissioner's salary until the May elections.

"It is a caretaker role in effect so he is continuing business as usual but he has no power to take any initiatives," said Mr Leigh. "He can't for instance vary the police and crime plan."

Mr Leigh said the appointment of Cllr Bisby "wasn't unanimous" and there were abstentions although it was agreed with a "strong majority".

Only staff employed within the commissioner's office was eligible to apply for the role and Cllr Bisby was the only candidate.

"The legislation is very restrictive on who can take on the role," said Mr Leigh.

"It is an interim appointment and there is not a lot of freedom between now and May for him to make mistakes; the panel will be scrutinising him to ensure he makes good decisions to run the office effectively."

Had Mr Ablewhite resigned a week or so earlier a by election might have been held but the law rules out anything other than appointing a caretaker commissioner if there is less than six months to go before the four yearly election.

Cllr Bisby is the Conservative member for Stanground South having moved to Peterborough 12 years ago. He has a military background as well as once serving with the Royal Ulster Constabulary.

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