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Who fits the Bill as Sussex crime chief?
The Conservatives are the most dominant force in electoral politics in Sussex. They took 46.4% of the vote in the 2010 General Election, and 43.2% in 2005.
So when a police and crime commissioner (PCC) is elected to oversee Sussex Police later this year, the Conservative candidate is the red-hot favourite to win.
Katy Bourne, elected to Mid Sussex District Council only last year and with little or no experience of Sussex Police, defeated long-serving East Sussex County Council leader and Sussex Police Authority stalwart Peter Jones to the Conservative nomination last month.
So is she guaranteed to get the job – which commands a significantly bigger electoral mandate than any MP’s or councillor’s, and comes with an £85,000-a-year salary?
All the other candidates confirm their main challenge will be to beat the Tories.
In 2010 the Liberal Democrats took 27.7% of the vote. Labour had 16.5%, while UKIP’s 4% was bigger than the total countywide Green 3.3% vote – despite their electoral victory in Brighton Pavilion.
In 2005, the Liberal Democrats got 25%, Labour 23.7%, UKIP 3.8% and the Greens 2.7%.
These elections are not first-past-the-post, and they do not coincide with any better-established polls as originally planned (they were postponed from May).
Coun Bourne’s opponents told The Leader they believe these factors can be turned to their advantage.
Andrew Smith, the only Liberal Democrat to declare an interest so far, said: “Depending what the mood is of the nation on November 15, there may be a strong protest vote for or against a particular candidate.
“You could have a result that went against the Conservatives.”
Labour candidate Godfrey Daniel said: “I think anyone could win this election, certainly an election in November.
“Dark days will affect the turnout. On a low turnout anybody can win.”
Ian Chisnall, the front-runner among the independents who have declared themselves so far, said: “Can the Conservatives be defeated? The answer to that has to be a cautious ‘Yes’.
“Some traditional Conservative voters I have spoken to are far from comfortable with the idea of a party politician standing.
“I think there is a huge opportunity for there to be a big upset.”
Coun Bourne herself declined to comment in a telephone interview and asked to send an email instead.
She said: “There is still a long way to go in this campaign and I will be fighting for every vote.
“Ultimately the people of Sussex will decide and it’s my job to encourage as many people as possible to turn out and vote and ensure they have a say in their local policing priorities.”
Every candidate has identified experience of policing as an area where they can challenge Coun Bourne as she bids to take sole oversight of Sussex Police.
When asked if she was experienced enough to do the job, Coun Bourne said: “With me, the people of Sussex will have a PCC who is prepared to work hard and represent their views.
“My business experience means that I know how to root out waste and inefficiencies so that we can cut crime further by getting officers out of the back room and on to the front line where they are needed.
“As a school governor I understand how important it is that our children are safe and, as a local councillor, I regularly talk to communities to make sure the police are tackling problems like antisocial behaviour that so often blight our neighbourhoods.”
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