It's official. I love Winsford.
I have raised a family here, moved from one side of town to the other, got elected as a councillor here and absolutely love the place and the people.
Our Police and Crime Commissioner (David Keane) obviously does not.
Why do I say that? Well, it was announced yesterday that he was "moving his office" from Winsford to Stockton Heath near Warrington. That’s right, moving himself from the purpose built, at a cost of £40M no less, Winsford Cheshire Police Headquarters to an underutilised (danger of being closed?) police station.
This must have been quite the plush and expensive office for the PCC to house himself , given that by moving he hopes to save in excess of £50K per year although the exact listing of the savings are not defined.
The PCC also says that the Stockton Heath Station “provides an office which is easily accessible to the public” – ahem….Winsford headquarters is so easy to reach, it was why it was built here and not elsewhere.
Maybe there is another reason for the move. Our PCC says “A single police and fire headquarters is planned as part of the Cheshire bluelight collaboration programme”. Errr not quite….especially since the the BBC website shows the following…..from sep 2016
Cheshire's Deputy Chief Fire Officer Mark Cashin said the decision was made "following an in-depth review". An official report says the cost of rebuilding fire training facilities was "prohibitive".
Following a comment I posted on the Winsford Guardian Website, a “Qualtec” posted the following.
“it is now part of the smarter working initiative to encourage staff to either work from alternative office locations or home when this is possible dependant on the duties undertaken by the employee….The reasoning behind this is that a large number of public sector employees work electronically and with emails & telecon there is not a requirement to be in the same office at the same time to work”
Noble sentiments and yes, even I work from home, albeit without a £50K saving to me or my employer and indeed no one expects the PCC to work in his Winsford office 9 – 5 and 5 days a week.
So is there a deeper reason for the office move or snub as I now consider it?
Well, let’s think about this….
David Keane, our elected Labour PCC is awarded a salary of £75K and yet still sits as a Warrington Labour Councillor with an allowance of £8K for an additional approx 22 hours a week Council work*. Could it be that he wanted to move a little closer to home to fit it all in?
Whatever the reason, it can’t help but look like another politician getting the snout in the gravy train, this time the Warrington gravy train.
I would love to hear what residents think about this. I asked a prominent Winsford Labour CWaC Councillor what he thought – his reply (on twitter) was “if it is saving tax payers £50,000 per year. He could stay if govt stop savage cuts.”
Maybe a fair point but consider this – he could stay in Winsford if he did not hire a £50,000 per year political crony who “failed to demonstrate an adequate knowledge and understanding of the police service and Criminal Justice System” as his deputy.
Overall, whether strategic, tactical or personal the move out of Winsford by our PCC, David Keane, is a snub to the town that I love, Winsford.
At least he gave us a tax increase as a thank you.
*To avoid debate, we get a little more in CWaC and I am happy to supply details.
Quotes from BBC website, Silk news and Winsford Guardian