Staffordshire police and crime commissioner's £25k deputy is part-time
POLICE and crime commissioner Matthew Ellis has defended his decision to employ a £25,000 deputy for three days work a week.
Mr Ellis is to appoint fellow Lichfield Tory Sue Arnold as his deputy after winning November's election to take charge of budget and priorities at Staffordshire Police.
The decision was debated yesterday at a meeting of the Staffordshire police and crime panel, which is responsible for scrutinising his decision-making.
Mrs Arnold, who is also a district councillor in Lichfield, where Mr Ellis serves as a county councillor, claims she will use her business experience to save the force a 'minimum' of £250,000.
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The panel grilled Mrs Arnold at the meeting but did not endorse or oppose her appointment. It will write to Mr Ellis in the coming week to record its observations, although the decision rests with the elected commissioner.
Mrs Arnold, who works in publishing and is a former director of British Chambers of Commerce, said: "My role involves supporting Matthew, and given the economic challenges my business experience will help him in terms of getting value for money for the taxpayers of Staffordshire."
Asked if her part-time support for Mr Ellis justifies the £25,000 salary, Mrs Arnold said: "I think it's excellent value for taxpayers in Staffordshire.
"I'm confident I will return on their investment a minimum of tenfold and the good people of Staffordshire will judge whether we've done the job we set out to do.
"This isn't about appointing a friend. Matthew believes he is appointing the right person and he will stand and fall on whether he has made the right decisions."
Mr Ellis last week announced plans to end forced retirements under 'A19' rules and recruit 30 officers – the first intake since February 2010.
He said: "I made the decision only a couple of weeks ago. I have decided it is good value for money as it will help get the job done more effectively and probably get the job done faster."
Labour city councillor Joy Garner, who represents the city council on the panel and stood against Mr Ellis in the election, said: "They are both from the same village. Mr Ellis did say that this was not a case of wanting to appoint a friend, but she did come across at times as a female version of himself."