On the shortlist…

Good to hear that I am on the shortlist to be the Labour Party’s candidate for North Wales Police and Crime Commissioner. Completely different from last time – four years ago I had to resign from my job to stand and I was busy contacting members – letters, emails and phone calls. This time the candidates aren’t allowed the details of members. If someone else gave the list to me, or if I had the information for another purpose, it would be a breach of data protection to use it – something rather inappropriate in this role!

I am looking forward to addressing meetings of members in each constituency over the next fortnight and happy to answer any questions before then…

Ar y rhestr fer

Da i glywed fy mod i ar y rhestr fer i ddewis Ymgeisydd y Blaid Lafur Gomisiynydd yr Heddlu a Throsedd dros Ogledd Cymru. Cwbl wahanol i dro diwethaf – pedwar blynedd yn ôl roedd rhaid imi ymddiswyddo i sefyll ac roeddwn i ati’n cysylltu efo aelodau – llythyrau, e-byst a galw ar y ffôn. Tro ‘ma dydy ymgeiswyr ddim yn cael y rhestr o aelodau. Os oedd rhywun arall yn rhoi manylion aelodau imi, neu os oedd gen i fanylion aelodau am reswm arall, buasai’n torri’r rheolau amddiffyn data – rhywbeth amhriodol i’r rôl yma!

Dwi’n edrych ymlaen at annog cyfarfodydd o’r aelodau ymhob etholaeth dros y pythefnos nesaf ac yn hapus i ateb unrhyw gwestiynau gan aelodau cyn hynny…

Pam dwi’n sefyll i fod yn Gomisiynydd yr Heddlu a Throsedd

Mae trosedd a phlismona yn rhy bwysig i’w adael yn nwylo un person. “A fo ben bid bont” bydd fy sail os caf fy ethol fel Comisiynydd yr Heddlu a Throsedd Gogledd Cymru.

Buaswn yn gosod blaenoriaethau clir: y dioddefwyr sydd fwyaf angen help, atal troseddu, lleihau aildroseddu a dysgu o gamgymeriadau. Buaswn yn cynal cyfarfodydd cyhoeddus yn rheolaidd ar draws Gogledd Cymru a threfnu “walk abouts” efo cynrychiolwyr etholedig, swyddogion yr heddlu lleol a swyddogion cefnogi cymuned, yn enwedig yn y 100 “hot spots” gwaethaf pob blwyddyn er mwyn sicrhau ymgysylltiad da â chymunedau ac i adolygu gwelliant.

Dwi wedi gweithio ar lefel uwch mewn llywodraeth leol a’r sector gwirfoddol, yn canolbwyntio bob amser ar wella gwasanaethau drwy bartneriaeth a chydweithredu o fewn ac ar draws sefydliadau. Fel Prif Weithredwr Awdurdod Heddlu Gogledd Cymru gwelais y byddai’r swydd newydd angen rhywun onest i adeiladu consensws efo cymunedau. Dyna paham wnes i ymddiswyddo i roi fy hun ymlaen fel yr ymgeisydd Llafur. Yn anffodus, wnaeth mwy o bobl penderfynu foicotio’r etholiad na pleidleisiodd. Dwi’n deall eu rhesymeg – ond mae’r system yma am y ddau dymor nesaf felly mae angen i ni berswadio pobl i ethol Comisiynydd blaengar a fydd yn gwneud gwahaniaeth cadarnhaol.

Dwi’n gweithio yng Nghaernarfon ac yn byw yn Llandrillo yn Rhos. Dwi’n Ysgrifennydd Plaid Lafur Gorllewin Clwyd, Cadeirydd y Blaid Gydweithredol yng Ngogledd a Chanolbarth Cymru. Roeddwn yn Ymgeisydd Llafur yn Isetholiad Ynys Môn ar gyfer y Cynulliad yn 2013. Dwi wedi ymgyrchu yn rheolaidd i Lafur ar draws Gogledd Cymru a byddaf yn gwneud hyn ar gyfer yr etholiadau ym mis Mai – os caf fy newis fel ein hymgeisydd PCC neu beidio.

Dwi’n falch iawn o gefnogaeth y Blaid Gydweithredol ac os caf fy newis byddaf yn sefyll fel Ymgeisydd Llafur a Chydweithredol.

Why I am standing for Police and Crime Commissioner

Crime and policing are too important to leave in the hands of one person. As Police & Crime Commissioner for North Wales, I would take the old Welsh saying “A fo ben bid bont” – “to lead be a bridge” as my starting point.

I would set clear priorities: the victims who most need help, preventing crime, reducing reoffending and learning from mistakes. I would regularly hold public meetings across North Wales and arranging “walkabouts” with elected representatives, local police officers and Community Support Officers, particularly in the top 100 hot spots each year to ensure good engagement with communities and to review progress.

I have worked at a senior level in local government and the voluntary sector, always focused on improving services through partnership and co-operation both within and across organisations. As Chief Executive of North Wales Police Authority I saw that the new post would require someone with integrity to build a consensus with communities. So I resigned to put myself forward as the Labour candidate. Unfortunately more people actively boycotted that election than voted in it. Whilst I understand their sentiment, the system is here for the next two terms so we need to persuade people to elect a progressive Commissioner who will make a positive difference.

I work in Caernarfon and live in Rhos on Sea. I am Secretary of Clwyd West Constituency Labour Party, Chair of North & Mid Wales Co-operative Party. I was Labour’s Candidate in the 2013 Ynys Môn Assembly By-Election. I have regularly campaigned for Labour across North Wales and will do so for the elections in May – whether selected as our PCC candidate or not.

I am delighted to have the support of the Co-operative Party and if selected will stand as a joint Labour and Co-operative Party candidate.

DefoGog – a new word that makes sense for North Wales

On Thursday night’s Pawb a’i Farn I managed to trigger a debate on “DefoGog”. My question:

Da ni’n clywed cryn dipyn am Devo Manc dros y ffin yn Ogledd Lloegr. Wel beth am Defo Gog – awdurdod strategol i’r Gogledd, yn cynnal gwasanaethau ar y cyd ac yn atebol i bobl Ogledd Cymru?

In English:

We have heard a lot about Devo Manc over the border in the North of England. So what about Defo Gog – a strategic authority for North Wales, commissioning joined up services and accountable to the people of North Wales?

Cardiff feels pretty distant from North Wales – after all it takes longer to get there than it does to London! And this feeling of power residing “elsewhere” is a dangerous one for democracy. Plaid Cymru are wrong to claim the North is being treated unfairly by the Welsh Government and Siôn Jones (our excellent candidate for Arfon who was on the platform for Labour) was right to challenge this line. We have three excellent Welsh Government Ministers who represent North Wales and it isn’t about “them and us”. Rather it is about ensuring (as Aled Roberts for the Lib Dems said) that decisions are taken at the most appropriate level.

We have a series of quangos governing North Wales – some accountable to the Welsh Government and some of them established as joint bodies by the local authorities. It is the same in Greater Manchester. The ten local authorities in Greater Manchester have got together and agreed a new governance model with the Westminster government which will enable them to drive integration and innovation across the city region.

My vision is that we do the same in North Wales. Not exactly the same, because the Westminster Government has insisted on a single elected individual (City Mayor) to lead the new “combined authority” and I favour a collective approach – but the same in the sense of having a joined-up approach with clear accountability.

Some of the panellists thought this was about having a single local authority for North Wales. Quite the reverse: if we ensure that the services that ought to be managed across North Wales are managed efficiently and clearly accountable, there is absolutely no need to centralise everything. This is a clear alternative to local government reorganisation and a rejection of the “one size fits all” mentality.

I grew up in Cardiff and the distinction between South Glamorgan County Council and Cardiff City Council was frankly baffling. Clearly moving from a two-tier system to a unitary authority was going to make sense. You can argue about whether it is better for the Vale of Glamorgan to be part of Cardiff or not – but having some functions where it is in and some where it is out and two sets of politicians and two sets of highly-paid officers to pursue the argument makes no sense.

But in North Wales there is a strong case for having two levels of accountability – the strategic services which need strong professional management and leadership across the region, and the local decisions about community facilities. It is a two and a half hour journey from Aberdaron to Marchwiel so the understanding of community centres, local schools or traffic conditions is going to be fairly limited – but it doesn’t make sense to have more than one Chief Constable, Director of School Improvement or Director of Medical Services across the region.

There are two views of democracy: one is about electing a “strong leader” to do things. This is the view that underpins presidential systems and the drive for directly elected Mayors and Police & Crime Commissioners. The other is participatory democracy – where taking a bit longer over decisions by seeking the views of all the stakeholders and reaching a consensus is favoured. Of course in a crisis quick decisions are essential – which is why the military and police have a clear command and control structure. But governance of those functions by civilians should favour the latter approach. I have worked for two directly elected Mayors – Jules Pipe in Hackney and Martin Winter in Doncaster. Jules would check the governance before a meeting and even if he was told that the decision was technically his alone, would go into the room and seek to persuade. He generally came out with agreement to his suggestion. Faced with a scrutiny report where he agreed with 30% of the recommendations he would focus on those he agreed with and congratulate them on their work and explain that regrettably he was unable to agree to the rest of the recommendations.

Martin Winter took the opposite approach. He wouldn’t check the detail and would miss the fact that he needed full council agreement on some of the details. He would tell the councillors that the Mayoral system meant it didn’t matter what they thought because he had decided – and then would be surprised when the necessary consents were withheld. If he agreed with 70% of scrutiny recommendations he would focus on telling them that their other recommendations were stupid and why.

This is of course goes a long way to explain why Jules Pipe remains Mayor of Hackney and is very well-regarded while Martin Winter has been consigned to the dustbin of history.

Police and Crime Commissioners have found that the key levers for reducing crime and disorder aren’t necessarily under their control. Community safety requires joint working with local authorities and communities. Health Services and Fire and Rescue have an important role to play. So any commissioner who focuses on the importance of something being “up to them” rather than seeking to secure a consensus will be frustrated and ineffective.

The Tory idea of introducing Health Commissioners would face the same problem – what is needed is joint strategic leadership of public services so that they work together. Likewise their idea of transferring Fire and Rescue to Police & Crime Commissioners would weaken the links with local government without securing overall cohesion.

What is needed is a joint strategic authority –with co-operation and joint working as its organisational principles not just internally, but by working with the local authorities, the Welsh Government and with devolved bodies across the border in the North West of England. Sir Richard Leese, Leader of Manchester City Council recently talked of the potential benefit to be gained by improving the links.

The Devo Manc model has embraced the idea of joint working, not just between the ten local authorities in the Greater Manchester region, but by placing policing and health within the same governance framework and securing new powers to promote economic development. Welsh Government would need to get the UK Government on board to deliver a similar approach to North Wales – but given that it has been agreed for Manchester and is already in place for London, why not? Subsuming the standalone job of Police & Crime Commissioner into a strategic authority that was also responsible for economic development, transport, health, social care, education, tourism and fire and rescue would be far more appropriate.

If I was elected as Police & Crime Commissioner for North Wales I would fulfil the personal responsibilities of the post, but by building as much of a consensus as possible on decisions rather than relying on my ability to over-ride objections. And rather than seeking to protect my own power base I would work with elected politicians across the region and across politics to secure a more sensible, collegiate approach for the future.

Appointing a new Chief Executive

I have to say I was shocked when I saw that Winston Roddick is advertising for a new Chief Executive. It is inappropriate to make a political appointment when the person appointed may not start until a few weeks before the election. When I resigned this time four years ago, the Police Authority took my advice and put in place interim arrangements until after the election. This ensured that whoever was elected would have the best opportunity to appoint someone who wanted to work for them.

So David Jones is right to question Winston Roddick’s decision to advertise the post now, just months before another election. But it is a shame David Jones is so unaware of the detail of the legislation which he voted for. It is a requirement to have a Chief Executive as set out in Paragraph 6 of Schedule 1 of the Police Reform and Social Responsibility Act 2011 :

 
(1) A police and crime commissioner must appoint—
 
(a) a person to be the head of the commissioner’s staff (referred to in this Part as the commissioner’s chief executive); and
 
(b) a person to be responsible for the proper administration of the commissioner’s financial affairs (referred to in this Part as the commissioner’s chief finance officer).
 
Of course, if David Jones and other Tory MPs had followed the advice of the professionals and made the Chief Executive accountable to the Commissioner AND the Police & Crime Panel, it would have continued to be a non-political appointment and it would be reasonable to expect whoever was appointed would be willing to work with whoever is elected. This is the system in local authorities which are led by an elected Mayor. Still not the best time to make the appointment – but a better, more accountable system.
 
This is one of the many ways in which the Tory-Lib Dem government failed to ensure normal checks and balances were in place when they rammed this idea through Parliament. The only justification ever given was that David Cameron wanted the change and clearly neither he, David Jones nor many other Tories bothered to engage with the detail of legislation.

Some more Politics?

I have decided to seek the Labour nomination for Police & Crime Commissioner in the May 2016 election.

Although I don’t agree with the system of having one person deciding on policing across North Wales, the only way to secure a meaningful dialogue with communities and broad agreement on what is important is to elect a Commissioner who wants to ensure this happens.

Four years ago I had to resign from my job in order to stand. This time I have got a non-political job. I will keep the two separate and continue in the job while campaigning in my own time. Let’s see what happens…