ON the first anniversary of the first national COVID-19 lockdown, an independent PCC candidate is calling for greater devolution of decision-making on COVID restrictions.
John Smith, former Deputy Police and Crime Commissioner and independent candidate for Avon and Somerset Police and Crime Commissioner, is today announcing his policies to support the police to enforce the COVID regulations appropriately so residents can get back to living normally as soon as possible.
He said: “I know from conversations with police and residents that getting back to normal is at the front of everyone’s mind, so if elected I will make my first job working with the police and local leaders to do this as quickly and safely as possible.”
A spokesperson said: “If elected, John will make supporting the police on enforcing the COVID regulations appropriately his first priority by:
- Proposing a radical re-think of how central Government interacts with local leaders to avoid key decisions on future COVID restrictions and lockdown easing being imposed without consultation with local leaders. John will lobby Government to allow local leaders in Avon and Somerset – the police, NHS, mayor, councils, and the PCC – to make evidence-based and collaborative decisions based on their local knowledge so that any future changes in COVID regulations are effective and appropriate for the local area.
- Calling on the Government to commit to investing in local government capacity and skills so that the people who know their local areas are the ones that manage the relevant COVID programmes, such as Test and Trace, going forward.
- Reviewing with local agencies, such as police, local authorities and the NHS locally, how public services have been delivered to minority communities in Avon and Somerset throughout the pandemic. The pandemic has exacerbated existing inequalities in society, for example the higher mortality rate for ethnic minorities and the disproportionate use of fixed penalty notices within ethnic minorities. John believes that learning lessons for the future is vitally important for the effectiveness of managing the pandemic going forward.”
John Smith said: “Like everyone, I am looking forward to life returning to normal, and as an independent I pledge to work with the police and local and central government – of any political persuasion – to get back to that as quickly as possible. This means using my experience to argue for local people with local knowledge being the decision-makers for their communities.
“I do not want a repeat of nationally imposed decision making on the tier system that moved Bristol and North Somerset down a tier while leaving South Gloucestershire in the top tier, as happened last December. This caused confusion and stress locally but was avoidable if Government had listened to local leaders. If elected, I would lobby hard to make sure that all local leaders in Avon and Somerset have their voices heard.”
Mr Smith was appointed Deputy Police and Crime Commissioner in April 2020 to help manage the increased workload of the PCC’s office as a result of the pandemic. John was a key member of the team working to manage policing throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.
He added: “Keeping local people safe throughout this unprecedented pandemic has been a huge challenge for all police officers and staff, especially with dozens of changes to the COVID regulations throughout the year. I am very grateful to the police, NHS and other emergency and key workers for the bravery they have shown in doing their jobs in the last year.
“My experience of working with them leaves me ideally placed to propose better ways of working going forward to get us all back to normal as soon as possible, and if elected, it will be my first priority.”
Elections for the Avon and Somerset Police and Crime Commissioner are being held on Thursday, May 6. Mr Smith’s full manifesto can be viewed on https://www.johnsmith4pcc.com/