Dr Jonathan Wallace calls on Northumbria PCC to suspend pre-election largesse
Lib Dem PCC challenger calls on Vera Baird to delay Commissioner's Community Fund grants until after election
Lib Dem Northumbria PCC candidate Jonathan Wallace has called on Labour PCC Vera Baird to suspend the process for awarding the Commissioner's Community Fund until after the May 5th PCC election.
The Commissioner awards small grants of up to £2000 to local voluntary and community sector projects with a focus on community safety and reducing anti social behaviour, but the timing of the current round of funding is being questioned by Lib Dem candidate Jonathan Wallace, who is the leader of the Opposition on Gateshead council.
Rules on 'purdah' in the pre-election period mean that councils and central government are restricted from launching publicity campaigns and major new initiatives in the weeks immediately preceding an election to avoid the perception that the political incumbents are using public funding to support their re-election.
Jonathan Wallace commented:
"Whilst I have no objection in principle to the PCC using a small part of the police budget to support local community projects which help to reduce crime and anti social behaviour, there are concerns about the timing of this latest round of the fund just weeks before the PCC election is due. It is difficult to escape a suspicion that Vera Baird is using this as a PR initiative to support her re-election campaign. This view is reinforced by the fact that previous grant awards have included several projects with close links to Labour councillors and campaigners. I find it particularly problematic that Northumbria Police's communications team are publicising this on social media to promote the PCC just weeks before the election - using imagery that strongly resembles the colours and brand identity of the Labour Party. This should not be permitted.
I am therefore calling on Vera Baird to take the honourable course of action and postpone the current round of funding until after the election to allow whichever candidate is elected to allocate funding fairly and transparently. I am sure that community groups won't mind waiting a few extra weeks for this funding, providing that the successful PCC candidate maintains the scheme, but it is more important for the PCC to avoid any perception that she is using police resources to promote herself and distributing pre-election largesse to community groups for electoral advantage."