As Birmingham and neighbouring authorities ponder how to respond to the Government’s demand that they create a directly-elected mayor, one local politician is already quietly campaigning for the job.
David Jamieson, the Police and Crime Commissioner for the West Midlands, offered a warm welcome to the Government’s planned Cities and Local Government Devolution Bill, which creates a mechanism allowing the Government to devolve power to cities with elected metro mayors.
The Bill will specify that a metro mayor – which means a mayor covering multiple local authorities – can take over the work of police and crime commissioners, and become responsible for overseeing policing. This is the arrangement already in place in London, where mayor Boris Johnson is in charge of scrutinising policing, and set to be introduced in Manchester, which is creating its own metro mayor.
If the West Midlands goes down the same route then a politician who already has experience of overseeing police services could be in a prime position to stand for the job.
Mr Jamieson said he welcomed plans to give metro mayors the ability to undertake the functions of Police and Crime Commissioners.
He said: “This is a welcome and sensible announcement by the government. If the West Midlands is to have a Metro Mayor it would make complete sense for that person to have responsibility for policing governance much like the Mayor of London currently does. This announcement is a pragmatic step that I welcome. I look forward to being part of constructive discussions as we work together to make this a reality.”
The commissioner, who was elected in 2014 following the death of former West Midlands Police and Crime Commissioner Bob Jones, is a former Labour MP who was a whip and Transport Minister in Tony Blair’s government.
He is also a former leader of the Labour Group on Solihull Borough Council.
Earlier this year he hinted that he might stand for the post of mayor, saying: “Mrs Jamieson would be happy to have me out of the house.”