18th Feb, 2020

Trouble on a plate as AB1 sale is questioned

Rob George 21st Sep, 2017

A CALL to examine the controversial sale of an historic number plate to a former West Mercia Police chief constable has been thrown out by county councillors.

Conservative county council chiefs rubbished the move by the Labour group for an examination into the sale of ‘AB1’ – the first vehicle registration number plate issued to the county in 1903.

Police and Crime Commissioner John Campion agreed to sell it to former West Mercia Police Chief Constable Paul West for £160,000 despite initially putting it for up auction.

And Labour leader Coun Peter McDonald said the sale had left ‘nasty question marks hanging over the Police and Crime Commissoner’s office.

“The public, I believe, see this as the selling off of the family jewels and gives off the perception of not being quite right,” he said.

“What cannot be disputed is this was public property therefore the person selling the goods should have ensured the best price was obtained and be seen to do so.

“There is no doubt public confidence in the Police and Crime Commissoner’s office has been damaged by this process.

“Who authorised it, why was it allowed, what other offers were received and what evidence exists to ensure the best price was achieved?

Coun McDonald called for Mr Campion to appear before the Police and Crime Commission Panel for the sale to be scrutinised.

However, Coun Marcus Hart, cabinet member for Education and Skills rubbished the claims and said the Conservative group disassociated itself from Coun McDonald’s views.

“It’s amazing to know how two letters and a number can generate such a debate,” he said.

“This is nothing more than a deliberate attempt by the Labour opposition to smear a former Conservative county councillor and current Conservative Police and Crime Commissoner.

“If Coun McDonald was serious about his concerns he would go through the proper channels and speak to the Police and Crime Commisioner himself. Something I know he hasn’t done because I spoke to the Commisioner himself to get the facts.

Coun Hart said Mr Campion confirmed the number plate had been put up for auction but when Mr West saw the item was on sale he made a direct offer to Mr Campion.

“I am no expert in numberplates but I am confident the Commissoner will be able to demonstrate title and best value for money,” he added.

Coun McDonald’s proposals were supported by the Labour group with the Conservatives and other parties either voting against or abstaining.

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