All posts tagged 'police-commissioners'

Are the odds stacked against independents in the police commissioner race?

by Paul on Politics, by political editor Paul Francis Friday, September 21 2012

IT looked like it was becoming a crowded field but the race to become Kent's first elected police commissioner has lost one of its hopefuls just weeks away from polling day.

Independent candidate quits police commissioner race>>>

Independent candidate Ian Driver has quit and says he is doing so because he cannot find the money to run a campaign. It is not just a question of the £5,000 deposit - not necessarily refundable - all candidates need, he says.

On his calculations, the minimum a candidate will need is £30,000 just to get a leaflet to Kent's 1.2million voters.

So, are the odds stacked in favour of the main parties?

Financially as well as practically, they may be as they have access to foot soldiers in the form of activists, councillors and party supporters who - even when their party is unpopular - can usually be co-erced or cajoled into helping knock on doors, stuff envelopes and yes, dip ino their pockets to pay for meetings and literature.

Where does the independent candidate get access to that kind of support network from a standing start? It's worth noting that candidates in Kent, will under the Home Office rules be able to spend up to £228,338 each on their campaigns.

Independents can't even really get an upper hand through social media - everyone, including the main parties - is attuned to how useful that is now in generating interest.

Ian Driver, who had some interesting if controversial ideas, says he won't be the last to have to drop out because of the costs and I agree.

The irony is that the coalition said it wanted to encourage candidates from outside the political mainstream to stand but in many areas will have elections in which the front-runners will prove to be conventional party stalwarts from fairly traditional political backgrounds.

Is that what the Home Office hoped for? Cast your mind back to the Conservative party conference when Home Secretary Theresa May announced that Iraqi war veteran Tim Collins was in the frame for the Kent job as a Conservative candidate. He was, she said, an example of the kind of independent person the government wanted to stand for the job.

Collins lost interest but in one of his early interviews before opting out had said:

 It is important that it doesn't become just a talking shop for knackered old policemen or a sunset gig for some trough-loving councillor."

Perhaps the independents have one advantage.

It is that with a record low turnout predicted, a few could squeeze through the middle just as they have in council elections for directly-elected mayors.

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Categories: Police

Tories bouyant about police commissioner prospects+ that new job for KCC's ex-boss

by Paul on Politics, by political editor Paul Francis Friday, September 14 2012

THE Conservatives appeared to be in bouyant mood at the launch of the party's candidate to be Kent's first elected police chief this week.

Hopeful Craig Mackinlay was in plain speaking, forthright mood as he laid out his credentials as a man who would brook no nonsense and would not stand for anything that got in the way of making Kent a crime free zone.

There were references to a zero tolerance approach to drugs and anti-social behaviour and he threw in a populist jibe against what he regards as a proliferation of worthy "partnerships" that he claimed talked a lot but didn't do very much.

(I did think he slightly undermined this when ended up acknowledging that working with councils and other partners was necessary to beat the criminals, though.)

On the charge that commissioners would lead to greater politicisation of policing, he said that there had always been politics in policing as the soon-to-be scrapped police authorities were largely made up of political appointees.

And he threw in a line about how householders should be permitted to do more or less what they liked to defend their properties against intruders.

It was all good meaty rhetoric that went down well with the party faithful - he even got away with saying he wouldn't mind being the most hated politician in Kent if it meant making the county a more secure, crime free place.

Speaking to a few people afterwards, they do seem to think he has a good chance of winning.

One intriguing titbit to come out of the launch was that the party is aiming to have a fighting fund of £70,000 by the time the election comes around; currently they have raised about half of this. I can't imagine many independent candidates being able to raise this amount.


No wonder Katherine Kerswell is "thrilled." Who wouldn't be?

Less than a year after leaving Kent County Council as its managing director in controversial circumstances but with a payout of £420,000, she has landed another job with a six-figure salary - this time with the government.

And what precisely will her new job involve? Reforming the civil service to make it "sharper, quicker and more agile."

Translated, that means doing more with less people around to do it but of course the government can't say that because it would make it look rather idiotic.

As plenty of people at County Hall can testify, Ms Kerswell has had plenty of experience in this field of "reform".

Many still bear the scars of the scorched earth around Sessions House left by her "Change To Keep Succeeding" programme, which left to a string of senior directors leaving and the introduction of what was described in Orwellian terms as "a new operating model" for the authority.

Even elected members on the ruling Conservative group blanched at some of the changes and are said to have become irked that their voices were being drowned out as KCC, with the machismo of a Mexican wrestler, marched restlessly towards new frontiers.

No wonder this week's news has led the Taxpayers' Alliance to dub her as the "the poster girl for senior public sector staff riding the job merry-go-round."

Still, nice work if you can get it, as they say.


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Categories: Politics

The race to be Kent's first elected police chief loses a prime candidate

by Paul on Politics, by political editor Paul Francis Friday, May 18 2012

The news that Iraq war veteran Tim Collins has bowed out of the race to become Kent's first elected police chief will disappoint Home Secretary Theresa May.

He was paraded before the Conservative party conference last year and hailed as the kind of person the government wanted to see take strategic leadership of police forces. "I wouldn't like to be a criminal if he gets elected," Ms May quipped.

Now he is out the Conservative slate looks like being one with a little less stardust and Ms May's party could end up with a candidate from the local government world - not exactly what was envisaged when it came to finding people to galvanise the electorate.

There was in any case some doubt about whether Tim Collins would win the race: there were mutterings among some local activists who disliked having a candidate with Central Office backing semi-imposed on them and it was entirely possible he may not have made it through the hustings.

It does seem odd that he withdrew after discovering he would not be able to attend all the relevant selection meetings, possibly indicating he was in any case cooling on the idea.

He did some damage in his comments that he could take on the job part-time - not exactly ideal PR when you consider the post carries a salary of £85,000 and at a time of austerity and high unemployment.

For what it is worth, my money for the Conservative candidacy is the county councillor Bryan Sweetland but when constituency activists are involved, anything could happen.


The flak coming Shepway council's way after unveiling that it wanted to get people's views on a possible nuclear waste site must have got the authority wondering why it has bothered. The idea has been trampled on by just about everyone with the leader of Kent Council heading the charge and making it abundantly clear that he wants it buried as far under the ground as any of the nuclear rods that would be trundling through the county in 25 years time.

The only politician to have been rather more cautious is Ashford council leader Peter Wood, who had a go at those who had damned the proposition without giving it a fair hearing (I wonder who he had in mind?)

It's hardly a surprise that there has been an outcry locally but the political backdrop to this is that Kent Conservatives at County Hall are particularly sensitive - away from anything else - that they will be on the campaign trail next year .

The last thing they want is to have to confront voters on the doorstep anxious about a procession of nuclear lorries or trains loaded up with toxic nuclear waste material carving through the Garden of England.



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