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Welcome to the 2nd email newsletter from Jonathan Wallace, Lib Dem Police and Crime Commissioner Candidate for the Northumbria Police Force.
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Lib Dems meet at York Conference
PCC candidate and actvists Mar 16 (2)
Liberal Democrats from across the North East attended the party's spring conference in York last weekend. Some of us met up for a group photo outside the conference centre. Included in the photo is Craig Martin (on the right with a purple tie) who is Lib Dem PCC candidate for the Durham Force.

You can find out about the debates on this link.

And you can watch my short video about what goes on at conference below. It's much more than policy debates and speeches!
Jonathan Wallace gives an insider's view of what happens at Lib Dem conference.
Time for Purdah!
After attending Lib Dem Conference in York last week I returned home to the North East to get straight back into campaigning for the elections in May. And through the week, I called on Labour Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) Vera Baird to suspend the process for awarding the Commissioner's Community Fund until after the May 5th PCC election.
 
The Commissioner awards small grants of up to £2000 to local voluntary and community sector projects with a focus on community safety and reducing anti social behaviour, but I question the timing of the current round of funding.
 
Rules on 'purdah' in the pre-election period mean that councils and central government are restricted from launching publicity campaigns and major new initiatives in the weeks immediately preceding an election. This is to avoid the perception that political incumbents are using public funding to support their re-election.
 
Ms Baird has previously come under fire for removing funding from the Victim Support organisation in favour of a new victim assistance organisation of which she is a director.
 
Whilst I have no objection in principle to the PCC using a small part of the police budget to support local community projects which help to reduce crime and anti social behaviour, there are concerns about the timing of this latest round of the fund just weeks before the PCC election is due.
 
It is difficult to escape a suspicion that Vera Baird is using this as a PR initiative to support her re-election campaign.  I find it particularly problematic that Northumbria Police's communications team are publicising this on social media to promote the PCC just weeks before the election - using imagery that strongly resembles the colours and brand identity of the Labour Party. This should not be permitted.
 
I am therefore calling on Vera Baird to take the honourable course of action and postpone the current round of funding until after the election to allow whichever candidate is elected to allocate funding fairly and transparently.
 
I am sure that community groups won't mind waiting a few extra weeks for this funding, providing that the successful PCC candidate maintains the scheme, but it is more important for the PCC to avoid any perception that she is using police resources to promote herself and to distribute funds to community groups for potential electoral advantage.
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