Low turnout for police vote

New Police and Crime Commissioner Jane Kennedy
New Police and Crime Commissioner Jane Kennedy

JUST one in eight St Helens people voted in last week’s regional Police and Crime Commissioner elections.

The local turnout - a shade under 13 per cent - echoed the picture of apparent widespread voter apathy up and down the country.

Amazingly, the local turnout was slightly higher than the regional average too.

Across the whole of Merseyside, just 12.7 per cent of the electorate casted a vote.

Ex-Liverpool MP Jane Kennedy was elected as Merseyside’s first ever Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) following the region-wide vote last Thursday (November 15).

Ms Kennedy, who represented Labour, won 70,884 of the 126,171 total votes, with second-placed Conservative candidate Geoffrey Gubb receiving 15,870 votes.

She also claimed 56.2 per cent of the first preference votes.

The PCC, which replaces police authorities, will be responsible for setting Merseyside Police priorities and overseeing the force’s budget.

Ms Kennedy will now also have the power to hire or fire the region’s chief constable.

In her victory speech, she said: “It’s an election that probably none of us wanted but I do want to thank all of those who have voted despite the low turnout.

“I appreciate their commitment to democracy in what is an important election.”

Meanwhile, the fallout following last week’s elections has already started in Westminster.

Conservative MP Edward Leigh said ministers should acknowledge major mistakes were made in the handling of the elections.

He said: “Clearly the new police commissioners will have very challenging roles in this environment. Shouldn’t we, as a Government, both show a degree of humility in admitting very serious errors were made in how we publicised the elections last week and show a determination to make this work and explain to people that replacing anaemic police authorities with a single identifiable head is the right way forward?”

Police Minister Damian Green replied: “I very much agree with the second point, less so the first one.”