Could metro mayor James Palmer add Cambridgeshire police and crime commissioner role to his duties?
PUBLISHED: 15:23 06 January 2020 | UPDATED: 15:23 06 January 2020
Tories are preparing for a candidate hustings to replace disgraced police and crime commissioner Jason Ablewhite whilst privately wondering if Home Secretary Priti Patel might yet hand the role to metro mayor James Palmer.
Mr Palmer refused to speculate on whether the devolution deal for Cambridgeshire and Peterborough might be amended to enable him to take on the police and crime commissioner role.
But he wouldn't rule out the possibility of it becoming something he might discuss with the minister when they meet later this week.
"I have not had that conversation yet," he said.
Meanwhile a senior Conservative councillor told me the party was preparing a list of suitable candidates for the May police and crime commissioner election.
"In Manchester all responsibility for policing has gone to the elected mayor - so whether or not we are going to have PCC elections in Cambridgeshire is anyone's guess," said the councillor.
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"With the Conservative party across Cambridgeshire we have started the process of selection".
Eleven months ago the Conservatives re-selected Mr Ablewhite as their candidate for this May but he stood down in November following allegations of inappropriate social media posts.
Mr Ablewhite was first elected in May 2016 to succeed Sir Graham Bright: members of the Conservative Party from across Cambridgeshire gathered last February to hear him speak and take questions at the Burgess Hall in St Ives, before a secret ballot confirmed his candidature.
Under the devolution deal for Cambridgeshire and Peterborough there was agreement to "work with Government to strengthen their role in commissioning of offender management services and explore the potential for a more integrated approach to criminal justice in the area".
However whether that would be sufficient to allow any changes without consulting with the seven constituent councils that make up the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Combined Authority is questionable.
In the West Midlands a joint mayor/PCC was due to be elected this year but following public consultations the proposal was put on hold.
Four years ago - in the Queen's Speech to Parliament - the Government paved the way for Manchester to be a blue print for other areas with elected mayors to take over the functions of police and crime commissioners.