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Ballot was a flop thanks to politics
SO THE election of Teresa May’s new police and crime commissioners is over. Like me, nearly 90 per cent of voters chose not to turn out to support this farce.
The public are not daft. They could see that party-political candidates were being put up to contest supposedly non-political posts. Independent candidates were marginalised by the £5,000 deposit and offered no support.
We have replaced independent police authorities with party-political appointees on an average salary of £80,000, who have obfuscated terms of reference and vague job descriptions. We know – like their predecessor authorities – they can hire and fire chief constables, set policing priorities and are required to consult the public about crime-fighting priorities. But little else is known.
Perhaps there is a hint in Conservative-backed Julia Mulligan’s reported wish to sell off the police headquarters at Newby Wiske.
So the perplexing change to the system is probably about resourcing after all. If you were a Home Secretary required to cut policing costs by 20 per cent would you rather deal with 42 politically motivated commissioners or 714 independently minded members of police authorities?
At the local end of things, party-political appointments have paved the way for an American-style neutering of police independence.
Allan Charlesworth, Old Earswick, York.
• JULIA MULLIGAN may well boast that she is a legitimately elected police and crime commissioner (The Press, November 17), but to claim this as a mandate is a distortion of English usage. It parallels Tricky Dicky Nixon’s assertion that he had “refuted” charges he had merely denied.
Anyone who read recent correspondence in local and national newspapers will be aware of the number of intending voters who complained that they would be voting in ignorance and under protest.
If anyone understood and valued the role of PCCs, they were the silent minority. For the rest, J Mulligan must thank those whose faith in rosettes is greater than their belief in democracy.
I resent the suggestion that I declined to vote through inertia. Except by abstention, how else can one register dissent under our present Parliamentary dictatorship? How else can one protest against a Prime Minister who would compel the unemployed to work for nothing while providing plush jobs for well-heeled party members?
Julia Mulligan’s embarrassment might be assuaged by her immediate resignation and call for a referendum. However, unchallengeable statistics clearly indicate the inevitable result, so it would perhaps be more seemly simply to resign.
William Dixon Smith, Welland Rise, Acomb, York.
• The reason I did not vote for the election for the police and crime commissioners is simple. When I received my poll card I was asked to phone 0800 1070708 for information of the candidates standing, and was informed that a printed version would be sent to me on November 1.
After that, silence – until two days before the election I received a telephone call asking to check my postal address and code, and was assured a booklet would be sent to ensure that I would be able to obtain the information of the candidates standing.
Nothing had arrived by then, so I rest my case.
Derek Filer, Elder Grove, Haxby, York.
• READING about the election of the North Yorkshire Police commissioner, how I agree with the comments on the website.
I went to vote and was greatly out numbered by bored-looking officials eager to pass the voting form. Very little info was available regarding candidates, etc.
How much has the public paid once again for something not needed? Millions at a guess.
A vote on the return of capital punishment would have been far better. Sadly, this something the public is denied.
R. Scholey, Langdale Grove, Selby.
• IT IS estimated that the Government spent nearly £100 million on an election no one was prepared to vote in, electing commissioners no one wanted. A few months ago, tens of millions of pounds was wasted on the abortive process of awarding the West Coast rail franchise.
Is it any wonder companies such as Amazon, Starbucks and Google arrange their affairs quite legally to minimise the tax that they pay in the UK when they see this type of waste?
If we could get some of the managers that work in these organisations to work in the Civil Service and to replace ministers, we would save billions of taxpayers’ money being wasted on useless projects.
Is it time to privatise minister’s jobs? I jest of course. But it is time we asked for basic competency from those who govern us.
Seggy Segaran, Holgate Road, York.
• I AM proud Coun Ruth Potter achieved 58 per cent of the vote in York, despite not being elected as Police Commissioner for North Yorkshire. She fought a tough campaign over a vast area.
My congratulations go to Julia Mulligan. I have requested an early meeting to begin working together across the political divide.
I will be discussing with Julia her plans to move North Yorkshire police HQ, how she will maintain police numbers with a 15 per cent reduction in Government funding to PCSOs and what she plans to do regarding the police funding element of council tax.
Although I question the mandate of commissioners with such a low turnout, Julia must be given a chance. The creation of these posts was in the Conservative manifesto at the general election and it was a policy agreed by the Lib Dems in the coalition agreement.
This is something I disagree with but respect. I do, however, believe it was wrong for the Government not to allow a free mail-out as during a general election and instead insist 300 words from each candidate on a website was enough for voters to make an informed decision.
Coun James Alexander, Labour Leader of City of York Council.
• THE low turnout to elect police commissioners demonstrates that the electorate had little information on what it was about, little trust in what it was meant to achieve and very little faith in the motives behind it.
The posts carry with it a salary of anything between £70,000 and £100,000 plus expenses. When the results were announced we find that two people elected to the posts were MPs who made “made mistakes” in claiming expenses while in Parliament. Isn’t this a bit like letting a fox loose in the chicken pen?
AP Cox, Heath Close, Holgate, York.
• DESCRIBED as “people power in action” by its converts, in reality the Police and Crime Commissioner vote held the lowest voting turn-out of only 14.9 per cent. People power gave it a huge thumbs-down.
You don’t need to be a rocket scientist to explain these results. No information clouded by political party rhetoric; hardly a brave new world.
So many questions still need answering – such as why at a cost of approximately £100 million and then the annual salary bill of £100,000 per candidate, could not this money be better spent by adding more police on the beat?
This all has the feel of a political big brother approach – hardly democracy; but it could turn out to be far worse: a Pink Panther scenario!
Phil Shepherdson, Chantry Close, Woodthorpe, York.
• THE elections were a complete farce.
For a start we didn’t know who to vote for. Unlike local elections, we had no profiles coming through our door outlining the candidates’ suitability.
The average turnout was around 14 per cent – an all-time low for a nationwide poll. The Prime Minister miserably failed to promote his flagship policy; and confronted by candidate lists full of party hacks and ex-MPs, voters unsurprisingly stayed away.
So good riddance, then, to John Prescott, whose attempt to secure one final nest egg from the taxpayer was blessedly thwarted by the voters of Humberside.
However, the humbling of this self-regarding buffoon was the only silver lining on a gloomy day for British democracy.
The public is disillusioned by a gilded, out-of touch political elite incapable of connecting with the aspirations and anxieties of ordinary people. The Chancellor obsesses over gay marriage when he should be focused on easing the economic burden on hard-pressed families.
Ministers squabble over wind farms while doing nothing to curb the criminally high energy price rises imposed on the public by firms whose profits are up by almost 46 per cent.
The voter apathy they have created should concern anyone who believes in democracy.
C Henson, Ullswater, York.
• HOW arrogant of Julia Mulligan to accuse those who did not vote in the election for the Police and crime commissioner as being apathetic.
Many did not vote because, like me, do not want the post filled by a political candidate. What we require is information so we can decide who is the most suitable and qualified person for the job, without any political affiliation.
Harry Punter, Strensall, York.