I see that Anthony Stansfeld, Police & Crime Commissioner for the Thames Valley is being criticised for using a car and driver to transport him around Milton Keynes, Buckinghamshire, Oxfordshire and Berkshire while carrying out his official duties.
I had a good look at this job when it was first mooted. This is one of the largest police areas outside of London. It involves 2.5 million electors and 2,500 square miles. It runs from Milton Keynes in the north to Wokingham and Bracknell in the south and Slough in the east. It is diverse in its geography, economy, ethnicity and many other ways.
The Police & Crime Commissioner has to be out and about in all of these 2,500 square miles. If people seriously expect him to drive himself, arrive fresh and mentally alert and to move on to each successive meeting, they need to think again. If they think it is economically effective for a Police & Crime Commissioner to spend time at the steering wheel when he could be reading policy papers and preparing for his next meeting, they need to think again. If people think be could do his job using public transport, they certainly need to think again. Boris may be able to hop on a bicycle, bus or tube in London but it is not like that in the Thames Valley.
When I was Leader of Oxfordshire County Council, I was always amused to see Oxford City Council provide its Lord Mayor (Council Chairman to you and me) with a chauffer-driven car to cover the very small area occupied by the City while the County Council expected its Chairman to drive himself around our 1,000 square miles and never considered the needs of the Leader to get himself around the same 1,000 square miles and I never raised this issue. However, in my last year as Leader, I got so tired of driving that I gave up, taking to public transport where possible and begging lifts from officers where public transport would not work.
This campaign against the Police & Crime Commissioner is clearly politically motivated, relying on the politics of envy but it is the alacrity with which the media jump on the bandwagon that irritates me. They should know better.