A surprise Labour candidate to replace much-loved police and crime commissioner Bob Jones has been announced.
Former transport minister David Jamieson, who lost his Solihull Council seat in May, is aiming to succeed the late Mr Jones who died suddenly this month.
Many expected Mr Jones’ deputy, Birmingham councillor Yvonne Mosquito, to get the nod, but a panel of senior Labour officials were impressed with Mr Jamieson’s top level experience going into an election which nobody wanted.
He was also a member of the region’s police and crime panel which oversees the role of the PCC.
The announcement of a successor came a week before Mr Jones’ funeral, which will take the form of a public celebration of his life at Wolverhamption Civic Hall at 1pm on Tuesday, July 23.
Out of respect the Labour selection was carried out in a low-key way with a shortlist of four candidates – Mr Jamieson and Coun Mosquito joined by Walsall councillor and former mayor Mohammed Nazir, and former Sandwell councillor Gurinder Josan, a prominent figure in the national Amritsar campaign – interviewed.
Officials said the process also had to be speedy as nomination papers need to be filed by this time next week.
Meanwhile, there has been no official announcement of candidates from either the Conservatives, UKIP or the Lib Dems – although former police officer turned Dudley politician Mike Rumble has been strongly linked with the UKIP candidacy.
Unlike 2012 when there were three independent candidates it is thought likely they will be put off by the tight time scale in which to secure 100 signatures, a £5,000 deposit and organise a campaign.
Coun Mosquito will remain as deputy to Mr Jamieson should he win the election on August 21.
The key to the Labour campaign, due to launch following the funeral, will be to continue Mr Jones’ legacy – especially given the genuine respect in which he was held.
Mr Jamieson, who was MP for Plymouth Devonport from 1992 to 2005, said: “My first vow is to carry on Bob’s good work.
“Bob Jones was an extraordinary man, who achieved a great deal. I pledge to honour Bob’s legacy by continuing his proud record of recruiting police officers despite the Government cuts.
“Like Bob I will also oppose and stop the privatisation of any core policing services. Policing is about cutting crime, not making a profit for shareholders.”
Coun Mosquito was this week appointed acting PCC by the West Midlands Police and Crime Panel, which scrutinises and supports the PCC.
Sandwell Council leader Councillor Darren Cooper, who chairs the panel, said: “Bob was making a huge difference as the region’s first police and crime commissioner and his untimely death is an absolute tragedy.
“He was someone who was determined to give local people an effective voice and I pay tribute to the legacy he has left.”
PCCs can hire and fire chief constables and set the police budget and priorities. They serve for four years.
The post was created in 2012 to give local people a bigger say over policing.