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Police commissioner Bill Longmore calls for change after furore over deputy

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Shropshire's crime tsar Bill Longmore has said future candidates for his job should be required to officially name their intended deputies after the furore over his appointment of his election agent as his second-in-command.

It follows a vote of no confidence in Mr Longmore being thrown out by Worcestershire County Council yesterday.

The motion, brought by Labour councillors in response to the appointment of Barrie Sheldon as Mr Longmore's £50,000-a-year deputy, was rejected by 27 votes to four, with 18 abstentions.

But Mr Longmore, who did not attend the meeting, was criticised by councillors from all parties for the manner of the appointment, which saw Mr Sheldon given the job without having to go through a selection process.

Mr Longmore said today he was happy that councillors had voted in his favour.

"I'm pleased it is over because we have got a big job to do," he said. "All that I'm interested in is working with Barrie to do all the things we put in our plan.

"It is terribly important for the commissioner to have a deputy who he gets on with and both have the same ideals and ideas and someone with good knowledge of the police. It is difficult to come out with these qualities in an interview."

He said that following the controversy over the appointment, he would be contacting MP Keith Vaz, head of the Home Affairs Select Committee, to suggest changes to legislation for future PCC elections.

"At the next election, I would like to see the commissioners actually name their deputies," he said. "This is the same way as the US president is elected and I think it is a good thing."

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At yesterday's meeting in Worcester, Labour councillor Alan Amos said: "Mr Longmore and his deputy are solely responsible for this mess.

"Obviously Mr Longmore intended this appointment. If he had told the voters during the election campaign, people could have made their own minds up."

Councillors on all sides expressed concern about Mr Sheldon's appointment but voted largely on party lines.

Councillor Liz Tucker said: "We are talking about an unfortunate early start to a very new role. I think we should start afresh."

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