Cheshire Police and Crime Panel refuse to support appointment of £75,000 Chief of Staff


Police & Crime Commissioner David Keane is delighted to announce that Mr Peter Astley MBE has been appointed as the new Chief of Staff for the Office of the Police & Crime Commissioner (OPCC) undertaking the role of head of the Commissioner's staff.

Mr Astley previously worked alongside David Keane at Warrington Borough Council where he held the position of Assistant Director of Regulation and Protection until he resigned in March 2017.

A statement from the Commissioner's Office said Mr Astleys' appointment to this role, which has a salary range of between £75,841 and £79,890, came "after a rigorous recruitment process which included a paper application, shortlisting, medical, personality questionnaires and police vetting".

Following the recruitment process Mr Astley attended a confirmation hearing with the Cheshire Police and Crime Panel, which maintains a regular check and balance on the performance of the Commissioner. However, they refused to endorse his appointment.

Councillor Howard Murray, Chairman of the Cheshire Police and Crime Panel, wrote to the Police & Crime Commissioner David Keane following the hearing saying "It is with great regret that the Cheshire Police and Crime Panel cannot on this occasion support your candidate for the position of Chief of Staff for the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner for Cheshire. This was an unanimous decision of the Panel following the Confirmation Hearing held on the evening of Wednesday 12 July in Winford."

Councillor Murray added a separate document containing a summary of the principle reasons for the decision taken by the Cheshire Police and Crime Panel but this has not been placed in the public domain.

Councillor Howard Murray told me "The Panel has received formal LGA guidance as well as legal advice from CEC that the Annex should not be published. This was known before the hearing and hence the reason why the Panel's rationale for their recommendation was attached as an Annex.

"The Panel examined the candidate's suitability across two broad categories: professional competence and personal independence.

"On this occasion Panel members represented three of the four Cheshire Boroughs, were cross party and included two Independent persons (not Cllrs). Many of us have extensive experience of the policing landscape and 4 of those at the confirmation hearing have previously been members of the Police Authority."

Police & Crime Commissioner David Keane, who earns £75,000, is supported by an office of 11 staff including the Deputy Police and Crime Commissioner Sareda Dirir who earns £50,000.

The other members of staff are Chief Finance Officer, Head of Governance, Head of Policy and Partnerships, Commissioning Officer Community & Safety, Commissioning Officer Victims, Communications Officer, Performance Analyst, Governance Officer, Senior Administration Officer and Administration Officer.

On announcing the appointment Commissioner David Keane said: "Peter Astley is a high achieving and dedicated senior leader in the public sector who has a wealth of experience at leading high profile and important regulatory services such as planning, licensing and environmental health. Peter not only has exceptional leadership skills, that are directly relevant to the role of Chief of Staff, but also has considerable experience in working closely with the police at a local, regional, national and international level."

Mr Keane continued: "Peter performed exceptionally well throughout the recruitment process and was consistently the highest scoring candidate. I am aware that following their hearing the members of Police & Crime Panel in attendance made the decision not to recommend appointment; however, on this occasion the Panel's recommendation is against the outcome and findings of a robust recruitment exercise. The Stakeholder Interview Panel, which was attended by the Chief Constable (and Chair of the Criminal Justice Board), the Chief Fire Officer, the Chair of the Fire Authority, a local authority Deputy Leader as well as the Vice Chair of the Police & Crime Panel, provided very positive feedback. This also translated to interview where Mr Astley performed exceptionally well and was the highest scoring candidate."

The Panel maintains a regular check and balance on the performance of the Commissioner.

Cheshire Police & Crime Commissioner, David Keane


Here's what readers have had to say so far. Why not add your thoughts below.

Sunday 23rd July 2017 at 12:11 pm
The recording of the confirmation hearing can be found here

The salary range on the job description - it has been extended to £80,688.

Other jobs currently up for grabs -
"Chief Finance Officer" - that should be useful since we are nearly at the end of July and there is not "Budget Book" for this financial year in place. Last one written by John Dwyer March 2016. Salary for this extended to £80,688.

"Head of Governance - pay scale now from £66,342 to £70,812.
"Communications Officer" - scale £27,519 - £33,597 - no change in pay from before.
"Commissioning Officer" - no change of pay.
"Governance Officer" - pay scale now extended to £33,597.

There are 12 people in total in the office of the OPCC - apart from the PCC himself. Some may well be part time. So far 7 of the jobs have been advertised.

Value for money?
Raymond Acton
Sunday 23rd July 2017 at 1:18 pm
This is beginning to look like Admirals and the Royal Navy.
David Hoyle
Sunday 23rd July 2017 at 2:04 pm
Absolutely ridiculous,how many staff do they need.Isn't this the same man who said that they needed to increase the rates or else police officers would be lost. Where is the money coming from to pay for him. What exactly do all his team do?
Neda Metcalfe
Sunday 23rd July 2017 at 4:30 pm
Maybe at the next local elections all the people who are against this development should get together and elect a councillor that represents their opinions.
Nick Jones
Monday 24th July 2017 at 9:11 am
MBE or not,and no disrespect to Astley for picking up the free meal ticket.. The PCC Panel may refuse to support this appointment , they previously criticised the appointment of Dirir his deputy, Cllr Howard Murray chair of PCC stating … “The public have seen that webcast [of the confirmation hearing] and I can tell you, and you know this, you know the public have reacted very badly to that lack of transparency”… “It is the perception of your office, it is the perception of your integrity and your judgement. This worries us because you have such a fundamental part to play in the efficiency of the constabulary and the safety of the people of Cheshire”… “This panel has no power of veto over your appointee. You could indeed have appointed your mother, As long as that person was not a criminal and not insane or criminally insane then this panel would have approved them, because that’s what it says.” HISTORY NOW REPEATS ITSELF. Fellow labour Cllr Damian Bailey stating this was ‘Inexcusable’, and now this.. appointment of a further ex colleague. Tax payer’s /
residents of Cheshire are ultimately ‘paying’ for this debacle and appointment. Keane increased the policing precept by 1.9 % and CEC has increased its resident community charge tax by 4.0% . Funds now evidenced diverted into ‘Empire building’ at Stockton Heath with no saving of Tax payers money and No efficiency to Policing function. This is not merely a Moral issue, it is evidence of further fiscal frittering of the public purse with continuing impunity, and no checks / balances / or sanction in place. Absolute disgrace and should be scrutinised in detail, preferably by Law enforcement.
Manuel Golding
Monday 24th July 2017 at 2:12 pm
Very difficult to disagree with Nick Jones' telling points.

David Keane is very speedily bringing his office into serious disrepute.

His candidates appear before the P&CP without submitting their CVs, the panel have therefore to waste public money on trying to prise out previous work information. Who goes to an job interview without submitting their CV? This lack of CV is obviously not an oversight but must be accepted as one of Keane's tactics.

The PCCs strategy and appointment process certainly requires an outside body's attention.
Ryan Dance
Wednesday 26th July 2017 at 8:05 am
anothet example of bureaucracy gone mad! !

This role...this office and the vastly inflated salaries are a joke. How this whole fiasco is acceptable is beyond me.

I thought the government planned a quango bonfire?

Absolute disgrace.
John Clegg
Wednesday 26th July 2017 at 8:25 am
It doesn't matter, Ryan, it's only yours and my money, and there's loads of that.

Remind me, someone, if you can: is this paid out of our council tax or by central government taxes?

This must be some really important work.
£200,000 + expenses for 3 members of staff.
Chief of 11 staff: that'll be an over-paid office manager, then, or an "administrator"
Gwynneth Littleton
Wednesday 26th July 2017 at 4:19 pm
So now what happens? I have a feeling this cannot work.Gwynneth Littleton.
Estelle Lewis
Tuesday 1st August 2017 at 8:47 am
Three thousand pounds a week wage?!

I can do that - Gis a job !