Suffolk: PCC candidates line up – but who will bother to vote?

IN ONLY a fortnight voters across Suffolk will go to the polls to elect a candidate into one of the most important roles in the county.

Earning a salary of �70,000 a year, one of these four will become Suffolk’s first police and crime commissioner (PCC) – a job which comes with the power of hiring and (possibly) firing the chief constable.

But can you name them? And will you even be voting on November 15?

The Star took to the streets of Ipswich to ask shoppers if they knew of any of the candidates standing for election – but no-one did!

It’s hardly surprising then that experts are predicting an all-time low turnout – with some forecasting that as few as 25 per cent of the electorate will bother to vote.

In Suffolk there are four candidates – and while in a “normal” election the Conservatives would be thought of as clear favourites in a rural county like ours, the outcome could be much less predictable if few voters make it to the ballot box.

Three of the candidates are backed by political parties while the fourth is independent.

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The major absentees from the ballot paper are the Liberal Democrats – the party nationally is unconvinced by the need for PCC elections and many groups across the country, including that in Suffolk, have decided not to put up a candidate.

The police and crime commissioner will replace the police authority and will have the power to set the policing targets and the budget for the police in the county. But he or she will not have any say in day-to-day policing matters.

The winner of this year’s election will hold the post for three-and-a-half years – the next PCC election is scheduled to be held in May 2016.

The vote in Suffolk will be replicated elsewhere in England and Wales (except in London).

David Cocks is the former boss of Radio Orwell and controversial healthcare provider Take Care Now. He has had a prominent role in public life in Suffolk for many years.

Mr Cocks believes party politics should have no part in policing and says he aims to put the needs of Suffolk above political considerations if he is elected PCC.

Jane Basham is the former chief executive of the Ipswich and Suffolk Council for Racial Equality. Ms Basham has said she would fight against cuts to the police service if elected as PCC.

She said she would like to support visible local policing initiatives – but also to boost police support for protecting children and vulnerable people from exploitation.

Bill Mountford is a county councillor who caused a surprise when he won UKIP’s first ever seat at Endeavour House three-and-a-half years ago. He represents south Lowestoft.

He was a last-minute addition to the ballot paper, and says he wants a return to old-fashioned policing with more “Bobbies on the beat” across the county.

Tim Passmore is the Conservative leader of Mid Suffolk council. He is a well-known figure in the county and a former chief executive of Choose Suffolk.

His manifesto includes pledges to try to ensure greater visibility of policing in Suffolk – both in its towns and its rural areas – and a promise to fight for a fair share for Suffolk in national policing grants.