PCC's widow slams by-election call

Romsey Advertiser: Bob Jones died at the age of 59 Bob Jones died at the age of 59

The widow of a police and crime commissioner has described the call for a by-election before his funeral "disrespectful".

Labour's Bob Jones, awarded a CBE for services to policing in 2010, died suddenly at his home in Wolverhampton on Tuesday.

Earlier today, Birmingham City Council confirmed it had received the written notification from two registered electors, required by law, to trigger the countdown to hold a by-election for the vacant seat of West Midlands' commissioner.

However, Mr Jones's wife Sarah Edmondson said her late husband's funeral date had not even been set yet.

Speaking in a statement released through the region's Labour Party, she added: "To call an election before Bob is even put to rest is in my view disrespectful to Bob and all his good work."

Mr Jones, who was 59, was elected as the West Midlands' crime chief in November 2012 after receiving 117,415 votes, more than double the number cast for the second-placed Conservative candidate.

The city council said the by-election would now take place on Thursday, August 21.

That date is 35 working days from when the two formal requests were received by the council - the timetable set out in the Act of Parliament which created the role of police and crime commissioners.

A city council spokesman said its hands were tied by the law on when it could hold the count.

"We received a notification from two registered electors this morning, asking us to call a by-election," he said.

"Once we received those notifications, we're legally bound by the terms of the Act."

It is understood the main political parties had informally agreed not to trigger the by-election process before Mr Jones's funeral had been held.

A Birmingham Labour Party source added: "Bob tragically died very suddenly, and it is massively disrespectful to his family to start politicking before his funeral has even taken place."

Anyone registered to vote in any of the seven local authority areas which make up the West Midlands PCC area can submit written notification of the vacancy, under the terms prescribed by the Police Reform and Social Responsibility Act 2011.

Ukip confirmed one of its members had written to the council, helping to trigger the by-election process, adding the PCC post was important and needed to be filled.

A spokesman for the party in the West Midlands said: "Ukip wishes to pay tribute to Bob Jones's memory, and our thoughts are with his family.

"He was well-respected and well-liked and, political differences aside, handled himself with a high degree of professionalism.

"But the issue now is policing in the West Midlands, and the important position of the PCC which needs to be filled."

The spokesman said he was "not aware of any informal agreement" by the parties over when to trigger the by-election.

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