May 20 2013 Latest news:
by PETER WALSH AND VICTORIA LEGGETT
Monday, July 30, 2012
Saturday might have been the day sporting action started at the Olympics, but it was also the day that Norfolk’s Conservative candidate started his race to become the county’s first elected police and crime commissioner.
1) Is there anything of which you are aware that might cause embarrassment if you were selected as our candidate?
Simon Woodbridge: No.
Paul Rice: No. At this time, no.
Stephen Bett: I have had a vetting by military intelligence because of the stuff I do in terrorism and serious organised crime. It took nearly a year. It’s pretty thorough. Either I’m very clever or there’s nothing to hide because they didn’t find anything.
Jamie Athill: I’m looking hard at my wife at the back of the room. Honestly, I believe there is not.
2) How would you judge success after your first year in office?
SW: Gain confidence of public, getting organisations to work together to reduce crime. Being a visible character devoted to crime reduction.
PR: I think that will be for the public to judge.
SB: More collaboration with Suffolk and other forces to find more savings.
JA: Improving communication [he was struck that when he went to a police authority meeting he was the only member of the public there]. Increase information given to public.
3) What do you think your relationship with the chief constable and police crime panel should be?
SW: A healthy one and one based on trust. The chief constable does a fine job. I expect the PCP to scrutinise the PCC.
PR: I think the relationship should be an open one.
SB: You need to get on with the chief constable but that doesn’t mean you have to do everything they say.
JA: Collaborative with both.
4) What do you think is the biggest challenge facing Norfolk police in the next five years?
SW: Budget reductions.
PR: Budgets and setting precepts.
JA: The cultural issue of being able to convince staff that change was necessary.
5) How would you handle a situation where the police are telling you one thing and the public are telling you another?
SW: Police view is generally based on intelligence and evidence but it’s important to engage with the public.
PR: That is a very difficult situation. That has to be balanced. I don’t think any senior officer could pull the wool over my eyes.
SB: Police give you a professional assessment. Public an emotional one. If you believe public is correct, explain it to the chief constable. If you think the police are correct, explain to public that their emotional response isn’t always the right one.
JA: I will be answering to the public.
6) If not successful, will you give your full support to the candidate who is (Only asked at Swaffham)
SW: Absolutely, completely and utterly.
PR: Very much so.
SB: I will consider my position in the future.
JA: Of course.
Here Peter Walsh and Victoria Leggett report of open primaries in Norwich and Swaffham.
TORIES HAVE CHOSEN THEIR MAN FOR THE RACE
With the stunning spectacle of Danny Boyle’s Olympic Games opening ceremony still fresh in everyone’s minds, it was difficult to imagine anyone wanting to turn out on Saturday morning to cast their vote for the Conservative’s police and crime commissioner candidate.
But more than 70 people, who had previously registered to be eligible to vote, attended the open primary meeting in the Norwich refectory building.
And by 10am the talk turned from the race for Olympic gold at London 2012 to which of the four Conservative candidates would be handed the baton to compete for the chance to become Norfolk’s first police and crime commissioner at the November elections.
Before the candidates – Simon Woodbridge, Paul Rice, Jamie Athill and Stephen Bett – were given their chance to stake their claim, Brandon Lewis, Conservative MP for Great Yarmouth, set out a wish list.
He said: “We’re looking for somebody who can listen to what Norfolk needs, that Norfolk wants, and put that in a concise way to the police, to motivate the police.
“When you view people, do think about who will be the best advocate for you, your family, your communities in Norfolk. That’s who we want. Think carefully, and make a good choice for Norfolk.”
And so it was that, one by one, each of the four candidates took to the stage in a bid to impress the audience, which included MPs, county and district councillors, former magistrates, victim support representatives and even a former police authority chairman.
The candidates were first given three minutes to set out their stall and inform voters why they should be selected as Norfolk’s Conservative police and crime commissioner candidate.
They were then each asked five pre-set questions – so voters could compare answers – before six people from the floor were given their own chance to probe the candidates.
Finally the four were given just two minutes to sum up and make their case for why it should be them and not the other three who should be given the chance to be the county’s first police and crime commissioner.
The public were then handed ballot papers and, as part of a preferential voting system, were asked to rank their favourite candidate with a 1 and least favourite with a 4 meaning the person with the lowest number at the end of the two primaries was declared the winner.
The same format was adopted at the second primary of the day, held at Hamond’s High School in Swaffham where about 120 people turned out at 3.30pm to run the rule over the four candidates.
Both primaries were chaired by former EDP Political Editor Chris Fisher.
Stephen Bett, chairman of Norfolk Police Authority, who was last to take to the stage in Norwich and first at Swaffham, said he had been involved with Norfolk police for 16 years –chairman of the police authority since 2005 – and would use his knowledge and experience to keep Norfolk the safest county in the country.
He said it was not a job for him but a “passion” and added that collaboration with Suffolk Constabulary, as the force has been for some time was imperative to the future of both forces.
He said: “I’m 100pc behind keeping this county as safe as it is at the moment with diminishing resources as best I can.”
Simon Woodbridge, former leader of Broadland District Council and the council’s member champion for Crime Prevention and Community Safety, focused on his achievements as a district councillor and working for the probation service.
He said: “I’m the only candidate in front of you that’s constructed a budget and directed a drug and alcohol programme for Norfolk, that has worked on the production of a housing strategy for offenders.
“I’m the only candidate before you that has created a crime reduction programme that has attracted national and international recognition.”
Paul Rice, a Conservative county councillor for South Smallburgh, who defected from the Lib Dems last year, but who has previously worked in the police control room at Wymondham, told voters his background gave him an invaluable insight into the way the police works.
He said he believed the police commissioner should be the “eyes and ears” of the public but added his experience of working from within the police meant senior officers would not be able to “pull the wool over his eyes”.
But while all three candidates were able to make good cases for them being named Norfolk’s Conservative candidate for the role of police and crime commissioner, the audience, reserved the longest and loudest applause for the case made by James Athill.
The former army colonel might, at least on paper, have had the least experience in terms of policing of all four candidates but the assured and confident way he put himself forward seemed to strike a chord with all present at both Norwich and Swaffham.
He said: “I understand the ethos and dynamics of a uniformed service and I know the importance of having coherent policies from which an achievable, acceptable and affordable strategy can deliver the effects we all want.”
Mr Athill, who dealt with the pre-set questions as well as those from the floor in the same striding style, had the sound, and rhetoric, of a winner.
And so it was that, just after 6.40pm, the votes having been cast and counted, that Mr Athill was elected Norfolk’s Conservative police and crime commissioner candidate.
He said he was “very flattered” and “very proud” to have earned the right to contest the Norfolk police and crime commissioner elections in November.
By the time the announcement was made, most people who had turned out to cast their votes had already gone.
As for Mr Athill, he might have won the race to be Norfolk’s Conservative candidate, but the real race, to become the county’s first police and crime commissioner, has only just begun.
A service at a Sikh temple in Norwich spiralled out of control when police were called to break up a brawl.
max temp: 14°C
min temp: 10°C