Barry Coppinger defends appointment of Ed Chicken

Barry Coppinger Labour's Barry Coppinger worked with Mr Chicken at Middlesbrough Council

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Cleveland's newly-elected police and crime commissioner has defended his decision to appoint a former council colleague as his chief of staff.

Barry Coppinger has hired Middlesbrough Council's head of community safety Ed Chicken to the role in his first week in charge.

Stuart Drummond, the outgoing chair of Cleveland Police Authority, described the move as "ill-advised".

But Mr Coppinger said Mr Chicken had "extremely broad experience".

He described the PCC role as "entirely different" to that of the police authority and said he was determined to have an appropriate structure in place.

'No longer required'

Mr Drummond criticised the Labour PCC for dispensing with the services of the police authority's chief executive, Stuart Pudney.

He said: "The incoming commissioner came into the offices on Monday morning, spoke with the chief constable and then spoke with the chief executive and said his services would no longer be required - he was bringing in his own guy.

"He (Mr Pudney) has helped to transform the police authority from an organisation which was virtually on its knees with everything that was going on to something that is transparent, efficient and accountable to the public and has been given a very clean bill of health by the Audit Commission."

Stuart Drummond Outgoing police authority chairman Stuart Drummond said Stuart Pudney had done a great job

Mr Coppinger was formerly executive member for community safety at the council and worked closely with Mr Chicken.

'Value and benefit'

"Ed is coming in to work on a secondment basis and that has been agreed with Middlesbrough Council," the PCC said.

"I believe that the extremely broad experience that Ed has had in the past in community safety and in a whole range of other partnership work in Cleveland and with all these local agencies will be of immense value and benefit to me in the future."

Middlesbrough Council confirmed Mr Chicken would "head up" the PCC office on a year's secondment from the town hall.

Chief executive Gill Rollings said he was "well suited" to the position.

Cleveland Police Authority is currently at the centre of Operation Sacristy - a criminal investigation into individuals with past or present associations with the body.

Mr Pudney was appointed to his role last December on a fixed-term contract until March 2013.

The new PCC said all contracts would be honoured and pledged there would be no "net cost increase" to taxpayers linked to the appointment of Mr Chicken.

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