To put questions, if any, to the designated Members on the discharge of functions of the South Yorkshire Police and Crime Panel, South Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Authority, Mayoral Combined Authority and South Yorkshire Pensions Authority, in accordance with Council Procedure Rule 11(5).
Councillor Burnett asked with the Police Precept increasing, could both Police Representatives inform the Council how they voted and the reasons for doing so?
Councillor Haleem thanked Councillor Burnett for his question.
At the Police and Crime Panel meeting held on Friday, 3rd February, 2023, seven of the eight Members present voted to support the policing element of the Council Tax precept for 2023/24.
Councillor Baum-Dixon was the only member present to vote against the proposal.
Councillor Haleem confirmed she voted in favour because more Police were needed on the streets. The Commissioner’s proposal would mean seventy-five more Police in Rotherham in the coming year giving:-
· Thirteen more Police in Neighbourhoods Teams.
· Four more response officers.
· Thirteen more in investigations, including the Vulnerable Persons’ Unit.
· Plus another forty-five student officers.
It also meant the whole of South Yorkshire, including communities, would benefit from one hundred and eighty-eight new force-wide posts which meant more to tackle off road bikes, more dog handlers, more mounted police, more firearms officers and more to tackle online sexual offences – something Conservative members would have been expected to support.
Residents indicated in the consultation what they want to see. The Conservative Government promised them to the country. Seeing Conservative Councillors undermine their own Government’s commitment to more Police for the second year running, and in doing so making communities less safe, was deeply disappointing.
In a supplementary question Councillor Burnett explained that a large portion of the South Yorkshire Police precept missed a couple of claims from the Hillsborough disaster and child sexual exploitation failures in Rotherham. With this in mind how comfortable was the Spokesperson on the South Yorkshire Police and Crime Panel with Rotherham residents paying the price and the Council Tax for South Yorkshire Police’s failures. Surely this was not fair.
Councillor Haleem confirmed she was comfortable with the Finance Team and the Police as they had more knowledge, the skillset and experience for the decisions they have made.
As a Point of Order Councillor Baum-Dixon wished to place on record that the original question asked for both South Yorkshire Police and Crime Panel Representatives to inform the Council how they voted and the reasons for doing so. Councillor Haleem had been able to put across why she had voted in the way she did and indicated how Councillor Baum-Dixon had voted, but Councillor Baum Dixon wished to advise the Members present and the residents of Rotherham on the reasons why he voted the way he did.
The Mayor advised the Point of Order had been noted and that the question had been answered by the Designated Spokesperson for the Police and Crime Panel, who was also the Chair.
In a further Point of Order Councillor Bennett-Sylvester disagreed with the Mayor and confirmed the question had actually been to both Representatives. In the answer Councillor Baum-Dixon was specifically mentioned and under Standing Orders Councillor Baum-Dixon should have the right to reply when so mentioned.
With competing ideas it was only fair that all Members should hear when both Members were elected as Rotherham’s Representatives of the South Yorkshire Police and Crime Panel.
To provide some clarity the Monitoring Officer confirmed he would follow this up in writing after the meeting on what the Mayor had ruled on, what advice he had been provided to the Mayor and that this was not a matter for debate.