AB1 numberplate investigation critical of police chief Campion - The Evesham Observer

AB1 numberplate investigation critical of police chief Campion

Evesham Editorial 18th Apr, 2018   0

AN INVESTIGATION into the controversial sale of an historic police numberplate has criticised West Mercia Police and Crime Commissioner John Campion for ‘effectively ignoring’ a higher offer made days after it was withdrawn from sale.

Despite clearing Mr Campion of any acting dishonestly, the West Mercia Police and Crime Panel criticised him for failing to achieve the best value for ‘AB1’ after it was sold to former force chief constable Paul West for £160,000 despite initally putting it up for action.

The report revealed the £160,000 included VAT meaning £133,000 was raised from the sale.

AB1 was the first vehicle registration number plate issued to the county in 1903 but was withdrawn in 2011 due to security concerns associated with having such an easily identifiable mark on the Chief Constable’s vehicle.

Auctioneers Brightwells were instructed to sell AB1 on June 15 but just a day after it was marketed on July 17 Mr West made his offer directly and AB1 was withdrawn from sale the following day.

Panel chiefs assessed whether Mr Campion had the right to sell AB1, whether he improperly sold the numberplate to a friend or someone closely connected and whether the best value for taxpayers was achieved.

“The panel was satisfied the PCC had the right to sell AB1. Whether it was appropriate to sell off the ‘family silver’ was a matter of judgement for the PCC to make.

“There was no evidence it was improper for the PCC to be involved in the sale of AB1 to the purchaser, as there was no evidence the purchaser was a friend of the PCC or closely connected to him.

The report noted an offer of £305,000 was made by a Worcestershire resident was made on July 15 after seeing it advertised in the Daily Telegraph and Mr Campion confirmed he’d recieved an e-mail confirming the sum on July 19 but didn’t consider it a firm bid.

“The panel was very concerned although it was said there had been regional marketing, the first and only national marketing had taken place on July 15, the purchaser’s offer received on July 17, AB1 withdrawn from sale on July 18, and the much higher potential offer was received on July 19 the very next day yet effectively ignored.

“The PCC stated he considered he was legally bound to accept the purchaser’s offer. With hindsight he accepted it would have been better to have continued negotiations with the person offering £305k.”

The report concluded the sale had not been done in the most effective way and the potential for more money for taxpayers had been lost.

“The PCC had been somewhat naïve in putting himself in this position and processes should be improved to ensure best value is received for sale of assets in the future,” it added.

In response, Mr Campion said: ““The panel’s report is clear I had the right to sell the registration, that the sale was conducted with integrity and it was sold to the person who made the highest bid while AB1 was on the market. The panel’s recommendations are noted.”

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