A CANDIDATE for the North Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner elections says he would not let the force pay to police fracking sites.

Former police officer and independent candidate Mike Pannett said plans to increase fracking sites around the region could lead to an increase in police callouts, both for protests and peacekeeping incidents.

Mr Pannett said "it would be foolish to underestimate the consequent scale of public reaction" if fracking plans were given the go ahead, and this could result in increased policing demands.

Mr Pannett said police in Cheshire carried out a six-day operation at a fracking site in January, clearing a protest camp with court bailiffs at a cost of more than £200,000, with officers from other forces drafted in to assist.

Mr Pannett said: "The Government has made it perfectly clear that over the coming years fracking is a £33 billion national priority to them, but to me it's incredibly unfair that the residents of North Yorkshire should be disadvantaged by footing the policing bill for a national priority.

"The cost for policing could feasibly run into millions here in North Yorkshire as protests and drilling gather momentum together and the whole issue stretches out over several months and in the longer term even years.

"As an Independent candidate for PCC I'm not politically aligned to the government and I am free to challenge and voice my concerns and ask hard questions on behalf the public.

"Times are tough apparently, especially for policing and our force has been cut by millions."

The PCC elections take place on May 5. To register to vote, go to gov.uk/register-to-vote