Councillors increase pressure on deputy to quit

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UNDER-FIRE deputy police commissioner Paul Robinson faced the wrath of his party colleagues yesterday over his refusal to resign his council seat.

More than 50 councillors, including many Conservatives among them council leader Steve Parnaby, voted in favour of a motion calling the two roles “incompatible”. Just five voted against.

Coun Robinson, who was appointed by his colleague, the new Humberside Police Commissioner Matthew Grove, for the £45,000-a-year, four-day-a-week role against the advice of a watchdog, has pledged to waive his £10,711 allowances.

But the move was branded a “cynical” 11th hour attempt to improve his standing as the pressure mounts.

Councillors complained yesterday that the saga had become a mess which was damaging the reputation of East Riding Council – and making them all “a little bit less credible”.

The Labour Group, which moved the motion, said afterwards Coun Robinson should reconsider his position.

Labour councillor Mally Boatman told the meeting he believed the role of police commissioner had been “fatally wounded” and there was “total mistrust” from the public, adding: “It is seen as jobs for the boys and cronies.”

Conservative councillor Symon Fraser said people who had voted for Coun Grove – who has said he will step down as councillor – were complaining, adding: “We are in a position where proper, decent work that should be being done is being hampered and hamstrung by a sideshow that is going on.”

Among the few dissenters was Tory councillor Mike Whitehead who declared Coun Grove’s election a “stunning mid-term” victory for the Tories, which rated alongside that of Boris Johnson’s election as London Mayor.

But Coun Keith Moore demurred, saying: “This is about public perception – if we can’t hear the howling of the opposition from the public they must be deaf.”

Meanwhile campaigners have welcomed a decision to reschedule a controversial scheme which involves removing granite setts from Beverley’s historic Market Place. Coun Parnaby said he had instructed officers to rephase the scheme, with work on the setts now scheduled later on in the £2.5m scheme, to allow further consultation. He was speaking after 200 people gathered outside County Hall in the latest of a series of protests.