In less than three weeks Sussex will go to the polls for one of the most important votes in recent memory. Bovvered? Thought not.
For despite all the claims that it embarks on a new era of democracy, the coalition Government’s flagship policy to improve law and order is failing to get anyone a teeny bit excited, never mind raucous enough to be eligible for an Asbo.
Has an election ever been greeted with as much a “meh” as those for Police and Crime Commissioners (PCCs)?
I write this hesitantly, as I’m as big a fan of having a moan as the next man.
But, really, honestly, what is the point of casting your vote on November 15?
Now all the candidates seem pretty amiable and no doubt I’d enjoy having a chat with them over a warm beverage.
But the person elected and handed a salary of £85,000 a year will be overseeing a budget of more than £200 million and is supposed to be holding senior officers to account.
Looking down the list, there are no political heavyweights among the shortlist of five.
Will they really be able to place Inspector Knacker’s privates in a vice?
Will they really be able to throw out the ideas of a top cop who has served in the force for more than 20 years?
Or will we get a yes man (or woman) to simply nod through the advice of an unelected group of senior officers?
I’m afraid to say the dream of localism will, in reality, become a culture of yesism.
The truth is, unlike our local councils where there is a clear difference between those parties that want to provide more with increased taxes and those that will do less by taking less, there is little to separate those standing to become PCCs.
Ultimately, everyone canvassing for your vote will pledge the undeliverable – to reduce crime in your neighbourhood.
There is not a candidate out there that will admit the truth – that the next four years will be among the toughest facing all public authorities.
With funding being squeezed, I want the person in charge of a mammoth public purse not only to grasp issues but not to be afraid to say no.
If it involves sacking a few people then so be it. If it involves telling someone to get a grip, then who cares?
We, the people of Sussex, deserve the best.
And I’m afraid the list of PCC candidates does not inspire me to believe it is nothing more than a costly experiment designed by central government to wash its hands of responsibility when times are tough and funding |limited.