An emotional Stephen Bett last night pledged to “put Norfolk people first” after he resigned as police authority chairman and cut his Tory ties in readiness for his campaign to become police and crime commissioner.

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Conservatives: Former army colonel Jamie Athill, who was educated at Gresham’s School before a career in the army, was elected Norfolk’s Conservative candidate – ahead of three others – following open primaries in July.

Labour: Steve Morphew, the former Norwich City Council leader, was selected as Labour’s Norfolk police and crime commissioner candidate in June.

Liberal Democrats: The party has yet to reveal its candidate for Norfolk.

Independents: Stephen Bett, former Norfolk Police Authority chairman, has announced he is to stand as an independent.

Mervyn Lambert, who runs a Garboldisham-based plant hire, sales, rental and servicing firm has also indicated he is to stand as an independent candidate.

The closing date for those wanting to put their names forward is October 19. The elections are on November 15.

Mr Bett yesterday formally announced his intention to stand as an independent candidate in the race to become the county’s first police and crime commissioner, who will have the power to hire and fire the chief constable and set budgets, after he quit as chairman of the police authority.

The announcement, which came at the end of a meeting of the authority at police headquarters in Wymondham, brought to an end 16 years of service on the authority, the past six of which were as chairman.

A teary-eyed Mr Bett also resigned from the Norfolk County Council Conservative Group(NCCCG), meaning that he will no longer take the Conservative Whip at Norfolk County Council, and quit the North West Norfolk Conservative Association (NWNCA).

He said he had been “proud” to have served on the authority for so long and see it “develop into one of the most efficient and effective in the country” but added the time had come to step down.

“I have always been open about my desire to be the police and crime commissioner for Norfolk – I don’t believe that local policing should be entangled with party politics,” he said. “Rather than toe any party political line, I have stood up for what I believe is right for Norfolk people. I will never do any different, especially when it concerns the safety of our communities.

“I’ve led Norfolk Police Authority on a non-political basis working with colleagues from across the political spectrum to drive improvements in the police service which have, by anyone’s standards, been startlingly good.

“We’ve slashed crime in successive years and become well-known as one of the safest counties in England –Norfolk people have lived with this reassurance since June 2009.

“I’m determined to continue this good work. I’m also determined to see through the plan that the authority has put in place with the constabulary to make the cost savings demanded by central government.

“This is a plan that has been heralded by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary as one of the best in the country – that’s high praise indeed – and I don’t believe there is anyone currently better placed to do that.”

Mr Bett, who missed out on being selected as the Conservatives’ police and crime commissioner candidate for Norfolk in July, said he has been “overwhelmed with the level of support” he has received from the public over the summer, which has confirmed his decision to throw his hat into the ring.

“At a time when funding is reducing, we need an experienced commissioner who has shown they can drive out savings through efficiencies and collaboration, protect the front line and maintain quality services for the people of Norfolk,” he said.

“I’m proud of the recent performance of the constabulary and what has been achieved with the consent of our most important partners – the public – who have backed the authority’s plans to create a modern, efficient and effective constabulary. Yes, I believe there’s more to do, but we have set out on the right direction.”

Mr Bett also paid tribute to his colleagues on the authority and the constabulary. He described them as a “great team” who together have “delivered excellent service to the people of Norfolk”.

Elections for police and crime commissioners, which are to replace police authorities in England and Wales, take place in November.

Mr Bett, who estimates an independent election campaign will cost him between £30,000 and £40,000, revealed he will have James Morgan, president of the NWNCA spearheading his drive, after he resigned as association president.

“I’m going to have a go and if people don’t want me to do it then fine, at least I’ve had a go,” he added.

Following Mr Bett’s resignation, members elected Robin Chapman, currently vice chairman, as the new chairman and David Reeve as the new vice chair of the police authority in its final few days before it is replaced by the incoming police and crime commissioner.

A statement read on behalf of Mr Chapman, who was not at the meeting, said both the authority and the constabulary had much to thank Mr Bett for. “I wish you well in your venture to become police and crime commissioner and shall miss your advice and counsel.”

Jenny McKibben, an independent member of the authority, said Mr Bett had done a “great job” and helped put the force in a strong position by thinking strategically about the future.

Mr Bett, who lives in Thornham, near Hunstanton, with his wife Philippa, is a county councillor for North Coast division and said he would remain so until the next county council elections in May when he would stand down.

His decision to stand as an independent candidate for the £70,000 a-year-post might yet split the Tories who have former army colonel Jamie Athill standing for them after he impressed voters at two open primaries held in Norwich and Swaffham in July.

Derrick Murphy, Conservative leader of Norfolk County Council, said he had no thoughts on Mr Bett’s resignation “whatsoever”.

He said: “Stephen has decided to go for the police and crime commissioner. I as a Conservative will be supporting the Conservative candidate but it’s up to individuals to do what they want to do.”

Directly elected police commissioners, who take up office on November 22 and serve a four-year term, will oversee the work of police, which ministers say will make forces more accountable.

Critics argue it puts too much power in the hands of one individual and risks politicising the police.

n A panel of professionals and public figures agreed there was no place for politics in policing at a question session ahead of a vote to elect the first county police and crime commissioners.

The panel, which met at Suffolk Police headquarters, felt that the first police and crime commissioner must serve to set priorities without interfering with the role of the chief constable.

Lord Tebbit, former chairman of the Conservative Party, said that the role “could go horribly wrong” if the chosen candidate attempted to make a mark politically.

In Suffolk voters will choose between Labour candidate Jane Basham and Conservative Tim Passmore in November.

15 comments

  • It all smacks of the usual suspects keeping their snouts in the council tax-funded trough.

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    robotsthatcare

    Saturday, September 22, 2012

  • Still my comment about Mr. Betts immaculate conception as an independent is not appearing. Why?

    Report this comment

    ingo wagenknecht

    Friday, September 21, 2012

  • What has happened to Friday's talking point? was the poll not to your liking or why has the whole thread disappeared from the front pages? What has happened to my 10 am contribution? would you like another copy of it.

    Report this comment

    ingo wagenknecht

    Friday, September 21, 2012

  • I think it is important that our new police commissioner is taller than the chief of police by 2 or 3 inches. Does the EDP have any pictures of Stephen standing next to Chief Constable Phil Gormley so I can make an accurate judgement?

    Report this comment

    Fly Tipper

    Sunday, September 23, 2012

  • If I am not mistaken didn't Mr Bett stand a couple of months ago to be put forward as the Conservative representative? So are we saying that having not been selected for the Conservatives has withdrawn from the CA and is now going to have another bash as an 'Independent'? Shouldn't he have done that before losing his first attempt, perhaps something has happen in the last couple of months to make him so disillusioned with the Conservatives, or maybe he is just really desperate to get this £70,000 a year job?

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    Honest John

    Friday, September 21, 2012

  • Maybe you would like to withdraw this whole article all together unless you explain what police commissioners plan you are referring to in your poll and who he she is. As yet we have no police commissioner in Norfolk, elections are in November. Mr. Betts is the resigned police Authority chair, not the commissioner.

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    ingo wagenknecht

    Friday, September 21, 2012

  • Well spoken H.John. Cllr. Bett has now a lot of explaining to do to his electorate about his newly found Independence. Moreover, they will find his agent, ex president of the North West Norfolk Conservative Association since two days ago, sorry for not hearing that important news, has joined him in his Independence. Stephen Bett is splitting the vote as a last favour to the Conservative candidate, to limit the strong support for the true Independent candidate, Mervyn Lambert.

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    ingo wagenknecht

    Saturday, September 22, 2012

  • Ingo, I rather think that the selfless act of splitting the vote as a favour to the Conservative candidate could not be further from Mr Bett’s mind. He has run from the Conservatives rather like Murphy ran from West Norfolk, so he could be in with a chance elsewhere, and standing as an Independent was his only available option. Hopefully people will see this and pledge their support even more firmly with Mervyn Lambert, then perhaps Mr Bett will run back to the CP and ask for his paid positions back.

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    Honest John

    Saturday, September 22, 2012

  • I agree with Mr Betts that there is no room for politics in policing, and I oppose the idea of politically motivated Police Commissioners. However, as we will have no choice about having the new PCCs, then I would rather see Stephen Betts there as an independent than any formally adopted Political Party's nomination. Mr Betts has a fine reputation as Leader of the Norfolk Police Authority, which should surely give him a massive advantage over the other candidates, as at least he has an understanding of what the Police's role in society should be, and an in depth appreciation of the challenges currently facing policing in this country.

    Report this comment

    Don Stevens

    Friday, September 21, 2012

  • I ask Peter Walsh once again, what police commissioners plan is the poll referring to? And who is the [police commissioner of Norfolk? There isn't one yet, so what is this article and vote about?

    Report this comment

    ingo wagenknecht

    Friday, September 21, 2012

  • If this is the friday talking point, where is my comment from 10.02 am? Were the facts too real?

    Report this comment

    ingo wagenknecht

    Friday, September 21, 2012

  • How sure is Mr Betts that the vote was kosher? I watched the Norwich meeting and saw the "independent" observer waltz down the road with the MP, the blokey from the Tory Party and assorted other Athill supporters - but no voting box. Anything could have happened to it including being opened. I didn't vote for Mr Athill and neither did anyone else around me. Unless the independent observer did not have it out of his sight until he oversaw the final count then I dont consider the vote right and proper. We know what the Norfolk Conservatives think of people who vote (see King's Lynn incinerator poll)

    Report this comment

    alecto

    Friday, September 21, 2012

  • Don Stevens - I must totally disagree with you. If you look at the track record of the NPA it`s not that good. Huge amounts of OUR money was spent on failed reorganizations which swung between local policing and response centres. Then of course which had the most bizarre decision namely the building of a prisoner handling centre for Norwich, way out at Wymondham. Then there was the lost opportunity to replace the totally outdated police stations at Gt Yarmouth and Gorleston by tacking a new one onto the new prisoner handling facility adjacent to the bye pass. Not to mention the recent succession of Chief Constables, the most infamous of all was Tony Blair`s friend Andy Hayman who came and went leaving behind them a trail of confusion, low moral that the current incumbent is doing his best to put right. But no thanks to Mr Betts who failed to rein in any of his predecessors.

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    BG

    Friday, September 21, 2012

  • Just what is the point of Mr Bett standing as a PCC candidate? If he were to be successful we would just have more the same. With police numbers and civilian support staff at historic highs in the county, someone needs to find out just where they are and what they are doing. The only time you see a police officer nowadays is when they flash past you with their sirens blaring for all they worth. Mr Bett has gone along with compartmentalising the structure of Norfolk police. In that we no longer have the well rounded bobby, capable of doing most things; but countless specialists and departments with a, "jobs worth," mentality which has swallowed up huge chunks of police resources. I can`t remember the last time I saw a bobby or even a PCSO in the area where I live. As for Charles Clarke and others fretting about politicians interfering with the police service. Chief Constables have been dancing to the tune of politicians ever since the days of Robert Peel. What the Home Secretary of the day wants the Home Secretary gets. Chief Constables and their team of assistants and deputies etc are career animals after all and they know that by not doing the Home Secretary`s bidding they will blight their careers. PCCs can only be a good thing. Police Authorities were a law to themselves and had a very cozy relationship with their Chief Constables. At last the rate payer will have someone who they can hold accountable. After all, it they who are are footing most of the bill.

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    BG

    Friday, September 21, 2012

  • I am only going to vote for candidates who have at least one road traffic offence recorded against them within the last 20 years just to prove that they are normal humans. Does Bett drive by the way, if not, a charge of riding on the pavement whilst under the influence of gin will do.

    Report this comment

    Fly Tipper

    Friday, September 21, 2012

The views expressed in the above comments do not necessarily reflect the views of this site

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