North Wales Police Authority chairman steps down after five momentous years in charge

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THE leader of North Wales’ Police Authority is resigning after five years in charge.

But Cllr Ian Roberts, 57, who led the successful campaign to save the force from extinction, won’t be putting his feet up and will be taking up a new role as the deputy mayor of Wrexham while his wife, Hilary, will serve as the deputy mayoress.

Cllr Roberts’ resignation marks the end of a remarkable period in the history of North Wales Police.

For much of his time in office the chief constable was the often controversial Richard Brunstrom.

But his biggest challenge came when North Wales Police was threatened by a Home Office plan to merge forces across England and Wales.

The father-of-three from Chirk has been a local councillor for more than 25 years and is a member of Wrexham County Borough Council.

He said: “I believe in my community in Chirk and I want what is best for the people who live here.”

“Joining the Police Authority in 1999 was a bit of a culture shock and it involved a very steep learning curve.

“I became chairman in 2005 and it has been a privilege and an honour to serve in this capacity, to ensure that we act as a bridge between the force and the people of North Wales.

“But within a matter of weeks of being elected to the chair we were fighting for our very existence.

“It was announced by the then Home Secretary Charles Clarke that there were going to be major changes in policing – there were going to be amalgamations and it was intended that North Wales Police should be swallowed up by an all-Wales force.

“Our campaign opposing the merger was a big success – for the Police Authority and the people of North Wales.

“We were vocal, we were targeted and in the end the merger proposals imploded.

“During the campaign I am told there was a computer in the Home Office that pinged every time Ian Roberts and North Wales Police Authority were mentioned in the media. It was pinging away merrily for months.”

Speaking about former chief constable Richard Brunstrom, he said: “He had some unorthodox ideas.

“I certainly did not agree on everything he said and he will not give you an easy ride but he is a man who drives things forward and get things done.

“The appointment of Mark Polin as the new chief constable was one of the most important decisions we have made during my time as chairman.

“We had to have a strong and dynamic chief constable with his own way of doing things and Mark Polin has all those qualities – and more.”

See full story in the Leader

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