Special report: Who will you be voting for in the race for Cheshire's first police commissioner? (From Knutsford Guardian)
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Special report: Who will you be voting for in the race for Cheshire's first police commissioner?
THE candidates in the race to become Cheshire’s first police commissioner have spoken and urged Guardian readers to vote for them.
On Thursday, November 15, voters will go to the polls to choose who they think should take over from Cheshire Police Authority.
The Commissioner will represent the Cheshire community, provide a link between the public and police and be accountable for how crime is tackled in the county.
The five candidates standing for election in Cheshire are Ainsley Arnold (Lib Dem), John Dwyer (Con), John Stockton (Lab) Louise Bours (UKIP) and Sarah Flannery (independent).
In this week’s Guardian they give the reasons why you should vote for them.
John Dwyer, Conservative candidate
He said: “Put your trust in me on November 15 and you will calling on unrivalled experience and a steely determination to make Cheshire and even safer place to live.
“My background is policing and public service. I am a former Assistant Chief Constable and was a cabinet member for 3 years on Crewe and Nantwich Borough Council.
“I am the only candidate to have written and published a manifesto and at its heart is the resident of Cheshire. There will be more Special Constables, extra help for the worst offenders, a tougher approach to yobbish behaviour and I will be using my position to speak up where I think sentences are weak.
“I want more police on the beat, who doesn’t, but we are in the middle of a terrible national debt crisis. Others may complain but in the meantime I will instigate a root and review of Cheshire Police and every penny saved will be used enhancing frontline policing.
“The introduction of a new Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) will mean that, for the first time, you will be able to hold someone to account for policing in Cheshire.
“Your new PCC will set the priorities for policing and determine the budget. While operational matters, quite correctly, will remain with the Chief Constable, I will work with the Chief Constable to build confidence levels in the force to a new high.
“Cheshire is already a fantastic place to live. But we must not rest on our laurels. Success lies in further freeing officers to do what they do best – policing.”
Sarah Flannery, Independent candidate for Cheshire PCC.
“The role of the PCC isn’t to run the police,” she said.
“It’s to bring a fresh perspective to policing: to be the voice of the people, forge strong partnerships, commission intelligent, joined-up services that cut crime, and hold the police to account.
“It’s clear to me this is a job where party politics, a police or police authority background, are inappropriate because impartial objectivity is crucial.
“I’m Independent with no links to any party. As the People’s PCC, I will be a passionate, strong voice for safer communities by putting people – not party politics – at the heart of policing.
“As a Cheshire business woman who’s lived here for 30 years and works with public sector bodies in health, education, and young people, I have experience in achieving objectives by collaboration.
“I’m heavily involved with community activities and issues across the county. That community involvement and my business background, makes me the ideal candidate for to help Cheshire Police continue its excellent work in reducing crime as Cheshire PCC.
“As PCC I will represent all parts of Cheshire fairly, with links and surgeries across the county. Victims and witnesses of crime will be a priority.
“I’ll build strong partnerships with public, private and voluntary organisations to reduce crime by thoughtful and realistic focus on more visible police presence, detection rates, reoffending, anti-social behaviour and dealing effectively with offenders.
“I’ll deliver value for money by supporting what works well, and cut crime without sacrificing public safety for profit.
“My Cheshire PCC manifesto is on http://pcc-cheshire.co.uk/ or call 07896716935 to request printed material.”
John Stockton, Labour candidate
He said: “I’m honoured to have been selected as Labour’s candidate for the Cheshire Police and Crime Commissioner role.
“Since coming in to office this Tory-led government has attacked the police and undermined the fight against crime. Police budgets have been cut by 20 per cent and in four years here in Cheshire we will lose nearly 250 police officers, despite having a force of less than 2,000 police.
“The government need to realise that you don’t cut crime by cutting police; instead you undermine the police’s ability to fight crime by cutting essential staff.
“I am campaigning in Cheshire on five key pledges: standing up for communities against the Tories/Lib-Dems 20 per cent cuts to policing and the loss of nearly 250 police in Cheshire by 2015; keeping police on the beat with neighbourhood policing and not handing over responsibility to private companies or leaving it solely to PCSOs; backing a strong and swift response to antisocial behaviour where victims should be able to get a response within 24 hours; being tough on crime and the causes of crime and I will work in partnership with the police, local people and councils to tackle and prevent crime; and protect the police from political interference. I will set the strategic direction for policing, but will not interfere in operational matters, which is the right and proper duty of the Chief Constable.
“By voting for me to be Cheshire's PCC you will be voting for a progressive and inclusive Commissioner and at the same time sending a powerful message to the Government objecting to their cuts in our police service.
“I ask for your vote so that I can help make Cheshire a safer place for all.”
Louise Bours, UKIP candidate
She said: “During my years as a councillor, I came to understand what it meant to serve your community.
“It was a great privilege, and an even greater responsibility.
“The bridge that you built between local authority and public had to be strong and sturdy; you had to represent the views and opinions of the electorate, whilst making decisions that would be in their best interest, not the interest of a political party.
“I can be a strong voice for you.
“This role requires strength of personality, and an ability to be the eyes, ears and voice of your community.
“I believe I can offer you those qualities. Whilst serving as Mayor of Congleton in 2006, I took an oath of impartiality – an oath that requires you to put people above any political beliefs you may hold.
“The same is required of the Commissioner. I would endeavour to represent you in a straightforward, honest manner – being accessible at all times, to the people who should be able to hold me to account.
“The opinions, worries and concerns of law abiding citizens would be my priority – putting the victim at the heart of any decision making process is paramount.
“Tackling anti social behaviour and other ‘low level’ crimes would be a priority – targeted response to prevalent crimes in specific areas is key – find out what the communities problems are, implement a ‘zero tolerance’ approach to that particular behaviour, thereby conserving resources whilst re-asserting that this kind of criminality will not be tolerated.
“I stand for the community, not the criminal.”
Ainsley Arnold, Liberal Democrat candidate
He said: “I have served as Vice Chairman of Cheshire Police Authority and as an executive member of Cheshire East’s successful Crime and Disorder Reduction Partnership, I was also a board member of the Children’s And Young Persons Trust Board.
“My family and I have lived in Cheshire for more than 36 years and I have served our community as a councillor for 15 years and sat on the boards of outside organisations.
“I am committed to retaining front line visible policing in our neighbourhoods and driving down not only crime statistics but the fear of crime.
“If elected I will conduct face to face surgeries with residents across Cheshire to ensure that their views are fully represented in shaping future police planning. I also want to ensure that our more vulnerable residents are listened to and their concerns addressed.
“I gained invaluable experience, whilst Vice Chairman of the Police Authority, of day to day policing; of the formulation of the Policing Plan; and of the budget-setting process.
“I was also involved in the rigorous scrutiny processes that held the Chief Constable to account for police performance across Cheshire – no other candidate standing can offer that level of experience.
“If elected to the role of Police and Crime Commissioner, I will ensure that Cheshire Police are fully accountable to the residents of Cheshire and have transparent processes in place.
“It is only by having robust scrutiny and systems in place that are beyond reproach that the public will have increased confidence in our policing.
ONCE in post, the commissioner will:
• Represent and engage with all those who live and work in the communities in their force area and identify their policing needs
• Set priorities that meet those needs by agreeing a local strategic plan for the force
• Hold the chief constable to account for achieving these priorities as efficiently and effectively as possible and playing a role in wider questions of community safety
• Set the force budget and the policing precept in council tax bills
• Appoint and, where necessary, remove the chief constable VOTERS across Cheshire will use the supplementary voting system when choosing a new Police and Crime Commissioner on November 15.
The new system differs from the traditional ‘first-past-the-post’ method used in local and general elections by giving voters first and second choices.
If one candidate receives more than 50 per cent of the first choice votes, they are declared the winner, but if no-one achieves this, the two with the most remain and the others are eliminated.
The second choice votes for eliminated candidates are counted and any votes for the two remaining candidates are added to their first round totals.
The candidate who then has the highest total of votes is declared the winner.
A public information booklet by the Electoral Commission is being sent to households between October 22 and November 2.
David Parr, police area returning officer for Cheshire, Halton and Warrington and responsible for co-ordinating the election, said: “Voters should not let the different voting system put them off from taking part in the election.
“As well as TV, radio and newspaper advertisements an information booklet, being delivered to every household, will explain exactly what you need to do to vote.”