THE incumbent Police and Crime Commissioner for Cleveland has already made a major change by axing the chief executive of Cleveland Police Authority on the eve of taking over the post.

Barry Coppinger has replaced Stuart Pudney with a leading council officer from Middlesbrough Council who he works alongside as a councillor.

Mr Pudney was installed as the chief executive less than 12 months ago and was handed the task of leading the authority through ‘major challenge and change’ in the wake of Operation Sacristy.

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The Labour candidate, who is set to take over the role after winning last week’s election, has taken Ed Chicken on a year’s secondment.

Mr Chicken, the Council’s Head of Community Protection, will head the PCC office in the force’s headquarters in Ladgate Lane, Middlesbrough.

He said: “I have already worked closely with Barry and in partnership with Cleveland Police in a number of areas covering community safety, anti-social behaviour and crime.

“I am looking forward to taking on what am I am certain will be a challenging and fulfilling role as the new office of the Police and Crime Commissioner takes shape.”

The Council’s chief executive, Gill Rollings, added: “This is a role well suited to Ed’s skills and experience and I’m pleased to be able to help by way of a secondment.

“This approach will both help to support the new office of the Police and Crime Commissioner and ensure Cleveland’s local authorities maintain a key role in community safety issues.”

Mr Pudney had been the deputy chief executive with the North Yorkshire Police Authority for five years before taking over the role at Cleveland.

The move to oust him has sparked concern with the outgoing chairman of the police authority, Stuart Drummond.

He said: “Obviously, it is up to Barry what he does and who he brings into the role, but there are procedures that need to be followed.

“Stuart has done a great job over the last 12 months and by working together we have transformed the authority from an organisation that was in trouble to one that has a clean bill of health from the Audit Commission.”

Mr Coppinger was unavailable for comment last night.