Fringe Box



PCC Munro Backs Single Unitary And Hints He’d Like to Head It

Published on: 11 Sep, 2020
Updated on: 14 Sep, 2020

PCC David Munro

By Julie Armstrong

local democracy reporter

The man who holds Surrey Police to account is backing county council plans for a single unitary, and may put himself forward to head it. Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) David Munro has written to SCC leader Tim Oliver, giving his absolute support for a single council to replace the present 12.

And he wants an elected mayor in charge of all the county’s services as well as the PCC role, and may stand as a candidate himself.

“My head says no, I’ve had a long career in local government for Surrey,” said Mr Munro. “I’m not as young as I was. “Of course my heart says, Oh gosh, that would be a good idea, wouldn’t it? But this is a long time in the future.”

His own future may be in the balance. At a Zoom meeting on Sunday (September 6), Surrey Conservatives announced criminal lawyer Charlie Chirico will be their candidate at the Police and Crime Commissioner election next year, after all. Ms Chirico had been a candidate last year until the pandemic delayed the election causing her to withdraw.

Mr Munro, 72, who spent 20 years as a county councillor before elected PCC in 2016, thinks one unitary with one chief is the best solution for policing.

He said: “We have to work very closely with adult and children’s social services to deal with vulnerable children, people with mental health problems and so on and it would be really helpful to deal on a one-to-one basis to get more coordination there.

“If it happens – and it’s not up to me – it makes sense for the PCC’s responsibilities to be assumed into that of the elected mayor, such as happens in Manchester.”

But Cllr Oliver (Con, Weybridge) said: “It’s no secret Boris Johnson wants to create a series of mayors. I don’t think that’s appropriate for Surrey; we’re not a metropolitan area. We don’t have a single city, we’re much more diverse than Greater Manchester or the West Midlands. It’s not something I will be pitching for.”

The leaders of the 11 district and borough councils, which would be abolished either way, suggest three unitary councils within Surrey.

Mr Munro said: “The life and death services, such as children’s and adult social services, need a critical mass to be able to operate successfully, and the experience of Berkshire, which is broken into smaller unitaries, demonstrates that.

“Their individual social services simply weren’t big enough to cope with the sometimes very urgent and very serious cases. You need a large number of people so you can specialise, and get really good people at the top.”

The PCC said he was not going to lobby but wanted to let people know where he stands. “If three unitaries is the model chosen, then policing will fit into that system,” he said. “We will be able to work with that.”

Surrey’s police force is already split into three geographic divisions, North, East and West, though the police boundaries join Surrey Heath with Woking, Guildford and Waverley and not with Runnymede, Spelthorne and Elmbridge as in the main three-unitary proposal.

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Responses to PCC Munro Backs Single Unitary And Hints He’d Like to Head It

  1. David Roberts Reply

    September 12, 2020 at 9:16 pm

    Pure folie de grandeur. Who ever needed elected PCCs in the first place?

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