‘Open’ selection of Tory choice for Norfolk police overseer

PUBLISHED: 06:30 03 February 2012

Police attend an incident where a man is pulled from the edge of the River Wensum -  SOS Bus on Prince of Wales Road, Norwich on a Saturday night.

Police attend an incident where a man is pulled from the edge of the River Wensum - SOS Bus on Prince of Wales Road, Norwich on a Saturday night.

Archant Norfolk Photographic © 2011

Norfolk’s Tories are to have ‘open primaries’ to choose the party’s candidate for the new top police post.

Norfolk’s Conservatives are to throw open the process of choosing their candidate to become the county’s first elected police and crime commissioner.

An ‘open primary’ system will allow non-Tories to attend and vote at two or three meetings in the early summer when the party’s candidate – who will probably be the favourite to win the new job – is expected to be chosen.

The local Conservatives have not completely ruled out the more radical possibility of allowing all members of the Norfolk electorate to vote in a postal ballot to select their candidate.

But Gt Yarmouth MP Brandon Lewis – the lead MP for the county’s Tories on this issue – said he feared the cost of such an exercise would be prohibitive.

The elections for the police commissioners, who are to be the face of greater police accountability and who will have the power to hire and fire chief constables, will take place nationally in November.

The commissioners will also set policing priorities in their areas and will manage the budget, and are expected to be paid about £65,000 a year.

They will have to answer to police and crime panels, and the new arrangements will see the abolition of the present local police authorities in a shake-up aimed at “reconnecting police and the people”.

Explaining the Norfolk Conservatives’ wish to open up the choice of their candidate to a wider ‘selectorate’, Mr Lewis (pictured below) said that “the commissioner will be the public face of the police in the county, so having our candidate chosen by the public is the right way to go about it”.

“We believe in law and order, and we should be transparent about how we choose the person responsible for it in Norfolk”, he continued.

The party’s plans for the candidate-selection process in Norfolk will not be finalised until next month.

But it is provisionally proposed that there will be two or three ‘open primary’ meetings on a Saturday in late May or early June.

A meeting will definitely be held in Norwich, and another will take place in the west of the county.

Tickets will be produced for the meetings, and anyone – whether or not a Conservative member – can apply. There will be a vote at each meeting after the candidates have spoken, and the figures will be aggregated to produce the winner.

Mr Lewis said that a final shortlist of people seeking the party’s nomination will have two-four names. Anyone wanting to be on it does not have to have Conservative membership, but would be expected to acquire it if selected.

Those seeking the Tory nomination will certainly include Stephen Bett, the current chairman of the Norfolk Police Authority. “I will definitely be standing”, he said yesterday.

And Simon Woodbridge, the former leader of Broadland council confirmed that “I have an interest in standing”.

On the Labour side, former Norwich City Council leader Steve Morphew said that “I am certainly putting my name forward.”

The closing date for nominations for the party’s candidacy for the post is February 17, and local party members are expected to choose from a shortlist in 
a one member-one vote election.


  • I wonder if the bookies are taking bets on this one? I think Phil Hardy will walk away with this for obvious reasons that I could not possibly speculate upon!!

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    Joy, King's Lynn

    Friday, February 3, 2012

  • there is still a chance someone in a football mascot costume might stand-one person from Hartlepool dressed up in a monkey suit and was elected as Lord Mayor.If Captain Canary throws his hat in the ring all bets are off,no-one else would have a chance.

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    Peter Watson

    Friday, February 3, 2012

  • Am I being naive here, but what have the political parties got to do with the election of a police and crime commissioner for Norfolk? Is this not about the public being given the opportunity to select the person who in their view is most likely to make a success of the job, irrrespective of political creed? The suggestion already is that the Tory candidate is most likely to be elected. Is that because he or she will have the benefit of the Tory local party machinery behind him or her? Where does that leave independent candidates, if any can be encouraged to stand against this background?

    Report this comment


    Friday, February 3, 2012

  • Brandon Lewis to the fore again, he states " Anyone wanting to be on the short list does not have to be Conservative but would be expected to aquire it if selected", the tories must be getting desperate for member if they have to use these tactic's. Roll on the elections perhaps we can then stop his waffling.

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    Friday, February 3, 2012

  • Clearly the police commissioner should be someone who has had no previous working relationship with the police or the police authority. One or two of the candidates will cite their previous experience of working for or with the police authority as a good thing. They won't be getting my vote!

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    Friday, February 3, 2012

  • The lengths some councillors will go to be surrounded by men in uniform.....

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    User Removed

    Friday, February 3, 2012

  • Not if the people of Thorpe Hamlets have anything to do with it Joy. The locals are rightly furious that he's now sucking on the Tory teat and many are demanding a re-election. Get those tickets now folks!!

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    User Removed

    Friday, February 3, 2012

  • Personally I think anyone who has been a member of a police authority should be automatically barred from standing. We need fresh ideas to be brought to the table and for there to be proper scrutiny of our police force. There have been some diabolical decisions in recent years by the police authority including the appointment of Andy Hayman and his "babes", the building of a prisoner handling centre for Norwich at Wymondham of all places. Plus the endless costly reorganisations which have been unpicked in the main by the efforts of the current Chief Constable. Mr Bett & Co should not be allowed anywhere near a nomination form.

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    Friday, February 3, 2012

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


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