Labour candidate trade blows with North Wales Police and Crime Commissioner over near £1 million annual office costs
The North Wales Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) has traded words with a Labour councillor from Flintshire who is vying to take his position.
It comes after Andy Dunbobbin, who represents the Connah’s Quay Golftyn ward, criticised the £930,000 costs incurred by the office of Plaid Cymru’s Arfon Jones in the last year.
Flintshire Council’s Armed Forces Champion also slammed the near £140,000 spent by the former police inspector on using an external PR firm over the last four years as “spend for spin”.
Mr Jones, a former Wrexham councillor who lives in Gwersyllt, hit back by accusing Cllr Dunbobbin of “regurgitating Tory spin” after the figures were first highlighted in a press release issued by the Welsh Conservatives.
He defended the amount paid out for staffing, PR and other associated costs, which he said was low compared to other PCCs across both Wales and England.
The row started after Cllr Dunbobbin targeted Mr Jones in a series of comments on Twitter.
He said: “The Office of the North Wales Police Crime Commissioner is costing North Wales taxpayers approaching a £1 mill a year.
“Your hard earned cash could be used better and smarter – so that we all benefit. I believe everybody deserves and needs the best value for money.
“The incumbent spends at least £30k PA of public money with an outside PR organisation. This #Spend4Spin is not acceptable.
“People deserve better than that. You deserve better than that. If elected, I would stop that.”
He added: “The role of the Police and a Crime Commissioner is not one of self promotion. It’s one where they represent you and hold the chief constable to account.
“This role is about you and how you are represented. Making sure your needs – and that of all our communities – are met.”
In response, Mr Jones highlighted a recent funding award of £1 million secured by his office for initiatives to target crime, including increased CCTV coverage in Wrexham and Rhyl.
The election for the role of North Wales PCC was originally meant to take place in May, but was postponed until next year because of the coronavirus crisis.
Mr Jones, who was elected to the post in 2016 after independent Winston Roddick stepped down, previously announced he would be running for a second term.
In response to the remarks made by Cllr Dunbobbin, he said: “I am surprised at Andy Dunbobbin, a senior member of the Welsh Labour Party, regurgitating Tory spin which also attacks the two Labour PCCs in Wales.
“Like my predecessor in the role and the North Wales Police Authority before that, I decided to continue to outsource the press office function and this has provided excellent value for money over many years and has helped keep the costs of running my office down to a minimum level – among the bottom five of any in England and Wales last time the figures were published.
“I am confident that the running costs of my office are lower than those of many Labour Police and Crime Commissioners. I would suggest that Mr Dunbobbin should examine their accounts too.
“I would also suggest that Mr Dunbobbin leaves the blatant electioneering to one side and looks at the facts.”
He added: “I wonder if he will be critical of the Labour PCCs who spend so much more than my office? Somehow, I doubt it.
“This is rich coming from Mr Dunbobbin when you consider the Welsh Labour government employ a vast army of press officers and spin doctors in Cardiff whose costs must be eye-watering.”
He said the PR firm was able to respond to media queries 24/7, which he claimed an in-house press office would not be able to do.
Mr Jones also highlighted that his team had been awarded the Transparency Quality Mark for the “open and transparent way” they work.
The next PCC elections are scheduled to take place in May 2021.
Liam Randall – Local Democracy Reporter (more here).
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