Councillor slams controversial Police Commisoner poll

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IT is already set to trigger one of the lowest-ever electoral turnouts the country has seen.

And now the leader of the opposition on Wigan Council has blasted the government’s controversial Police and Crime Commissioner process as a “complete and utter waste of time and money.”

Independents’ leader Coun Gary Wilkes is angry that funds that could have been ploughed into fighting burglary or cracking down on anti social behaviour which blight the town’s estates are set to be diverted to cover the new commissioner’s wages and the operational costs of administering his office.

The election takes place on Thursday, November 15 and figures from the Electoral Reform Society suggest that only 18.5 per cent of the electorate will vote in elections that will cost an eyebrow-raising £75m overall across the country.

If their prediction is correct, this would be the lowest ever turnout in a British election.

Polling watchers are partially blaming the decision to hold the elections in rain-filled November, when no other elections are being held, for the predicted stay-away.

The Home Office began sending leaflets to 21m households this week as part of the government campaign to raise the profile of the elections.

Candidates for the Greater Manchester Police area which includes Wigan, are Tony Lloyd (Lab); Michael Winstanley (Con), Matt Gallagher (Lib Dem); Steven Woolfe (UKIP); Roy Warren (Ind).

Coun Wilkes said: “I have been left asking will these new Commissioners make a real difference?

“I don’t wish to sound cynical but no they won’t and the reason for that is because of funding. This Coalition Government has reduced funding to Greater Manchester Police by well over a third so it is money the Police need, not new made up jobs, that won’t deliver value for money.”

Coun Wilkes said that each new Police Commissioner would receive a salary in the region of £70,000, but yet you don’t need “any relevant qualifications” to stand for a Commissioner.

He said: “These failed politicians have very little experience with dealing with crime issues and don’t need any qualifications to stand.

“If you were to earn this type of money in the public sector you would need some form of degree equivalent qualification.

“Holding these Kangaroo elections are a complete waste of public money which should be spent directly on the Police.

“I for one will not be voting as I feel its a waste of public money and feel they will not make one ounce of difference to our community.”

But a spokesman for the Home Office said that PCCs will play a key role in delivering policing by “representing and engagaing” with all those who live and work in the community they represent an identifying their policing needs.

They will also set priorities that meet those needs by agreeing a local strategic plan for the force.

The commissioner will also be able to hold the chief constable to account “for achieving these priorities as efficiently and effectively as possible” and playing a role in the “wider questions of community safety.”

As well as setting the force budget and the policing precept in council tax bills.

And appointing – and where necessary – removing the chief constable.

Information on all the almost 200 candidates hoping to be elected as the first ever Police and Crime Commissioners (PCCs) has now gone live at www.choosemypcc.org.uk

l What do you think? Do we need a Police Commissioner or is the whole process a gross waste of taxpayers cash? Go online to have your say www.wigantoday.net