The Liberal Democrats have selected campaigner, councillor and veteran James Barker as their candidate for the North Yorkshire Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner election to be held on 6th May.
James is a City of York Councillor, representing the Rural West York ward since his election in 2019, when he overturned a huge Conservative majority to win his seat from the former York Conservative party leader.
James' background is in the armed forces, having joined the RAF as an Officer Cadet in 1996, graduating in 1997. 24 years of military service has seen him deploy to Iraq three times and he has also been deployed in support of operations in Afghanistan as well as a number of other countries on exercises and training tasks. James continues his military service as a reservist with 7644(PR) Squadron based at RAF Halton.
James lives in York with his wife Mandy and two adopted children. Outside of work, James is a Scout leader and a qualified rugby coach.
Commenting on his selection as the Lib Dem PFCC candidate for North Yorkshire, James said:
"I try to make a difference in whatever it is I do, my candidacy for the North Yorkshire Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner is the next logical step in my public service.
"My aim is to build a resilient, professional and diverse Police and Fire service representing and working for the people of York and North Yorkshire. I want to bring openness and transparency to its operations and make the case for adequate funding to be devolved to these services to tackle local issues.
"I have identified a number of key priorities across York and North Yorkshire, and over the coming weeks I want to engage with residents to hear more about what they view as the key issues and required improvements for local Police and Fire services. This is why I am launching a survey on residents' priorities for Police and Fire services, which you can fill in here."
As a councillor, James encourages residents to report any concerns about criminal activity using the non-emergency 101 number. But when people do call, they are often left hanging on the phone and just give up. Improving this vital service will be a top priority for James.
James wants to see increased Police visibility in both city and rural communities in England's largest county. Key to this will be strengthening partnership working between the Police and local communities, who are often best placed to identify the measures needed to ensure that residents feel safe.
Tackling the causes of crime:
James is committed to developing an approach through which the Police work more closely with local education, social care, mental health, drug and alcohol and other services to ensure that people have the help and support they need to build lives free from crime.
'Team Blue Light':
Bringing together the Police and Fire Services has created an opportunity for more collaborative working, with a focus on service delivery and getting the best value for money. James wants to see a reversal of years of under-investment in Police and Fire Services which have held them back. James wants to build a flexible and resilient service that is able to adapt to ever-changing circumstances.
Ending the Cladding Scandal:
Fire safety is essential, yet the current system in place to identify and remediate cladding and fire safety issues is not only perilously slow, presenting significant safety risks but is also leaving thousands of leaseholders, both those is high rise buildings as well as those in under 18m flats, facing costs of up to tens of thousands of pounds to fix historic fire safety defects without being able to apply for comprehensive financial assistance.
The building industry and the Government must take responsibility for their role in the long-term systemic failure that has caused the cladding crisis. James will push for our communities across North Yorkshire to be protected and make sure residents don't have to pick up the bill for Government inaction.
If you'd like to get in touch with James, please e-mail JamesBarker4PFCC@gmail.com
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