New Chair appointed to the Police and Crime Panel

The Avon and Somerset Police and Crime Panel has appointed a new Chairman as the previous Chair steps down after six years.

Councillor Nigel Ashton, who is also Leader of North Somerset Council, stood down from the role of Chair at the Panel’s Annual General meeting last week, but will remain a member of the panel. He is replaced by Cllr Martin Wale who represents South Somerset District Council.

Cllr Ashton, who has chaired the panel since 2012, said: “My six years as chairman of the panel have been a real privilege and I have enjoyed guiding the panel’s work to scrutinise the work of our Commissioner.

“During that time, the panel and the Commissioner have worked hard to develop the new roles, and I believe will continue to build on the good work done so far. Along with all areas of public service, policing has experienced a huge degree of change and I am sure there is more to come as the powers and responsibilities of Police and Crime Commissioners expand at pace.

I look forward to continuing to be involved in this important role for our communities as a panel member and wish my successor well.”

The Police and Crime Panel supports and scrutinises the work of the Police and Crime Commissioner. It’s made up of Councillors from the ten authorities in the force area and three independent members.

It reviews plans and objectives, scrutinises the Commissioner’s proposed Council Tax precept and appointment of a Chief Constable, and looks at any complaints about their conduct.

Avon and Somerset Police and Crime Commissioner, Sue Mountstevens, praised the outgoing Chairman saying: “Over the past six years, Cllr Nigel Ashton has exercised his position as Chair of the Police and Crime Panel with both fairness and challenge.  He is committed to ensuring I was held to account on behalf of local people and I’m delighted he’ll remain on the Panel to continue his scrutiny.

“I welcome South Somerset Council’s Cllr Martin Wale as the new Chair and have no doubt he will continue to uphold the position, guiding the Panel, as our local people of Avon and Somerset have come to expect.  Much in policing has changed since I was first elected in 2012, but the importance of public accountability and scrutiny has never been stronger.”

On taking up his new role, Cllr Wale said: “I hope I will be able to continue the work and progress made by the panel during the six years of Nigel Ashton’s Chairmanship since the Panels conception.

“Of particular interest to myself and the Panel members is the review of neighbourhood policing which is very much a part of the Commissioner’s Annual Plan. Of course, part of her reasoning for seeking, and getting, an increase in the precept earlier this year was to maintain the strengths of our neighbourhood police teams.

“We shall scrutinise this review later this year as the maintenance and availability of visible neighbourhood policing is a wish of us all.”

For more information about the Panel, including how the public can get involved, visit http://www.avonandsomersetpoliceandcrimepanel.org.uk/