Police and Crime Commissioner candidates descend on Lowestoft

THE four candidates vying to become Suffolk's first Police and Crime Commissioner faced the public in Lowestoft this week as they all sought to convince people in Waveney that they should get their vote.

Labour's Jane Basham, Conservative Tim Passmore, UKIP's Bill Mountford and independent David Cocks braved the rain on Tuesday to talk to members of the public about the forthcoming election.

They then faced questions at two hustings organised by Chris Brooks, chairman of the Suffolk Pensioners' Association, and former local councillor Andrew Shepherd.

The first was at the Stella Maris Hall, in Gordon Road, in the afternoon, before an evening session at The Seagull Theatre in Pakefield.

At these sessions, the candidates were given the opportunity to outline their top three priorities.

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Ms Basham said she wanted to target unsocial behaviour, violence against women and girls and response times.

Mr Passmore said he wanted to target anti-social behaviour, drugs and business crime.

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Mr Mountford said he wanted to focus on crime prevention, anti-social behaviour and road safety.

Mr Cocks said he was focusing on catching more criminals, reassuring victims that something was happening and increasing the morale of the force.

The candidates also took questions from the floor as they gave their thoughts on the merging of police forces, the political nature of the position and the role of police officers in the future.

Ms Basham said she was deeply worried by the collaboration with Norfolk and said the issue needed much more public debate.

Mr Passmore said he was proud of being from Suffolk but said it was important to look at collaborations and co-operation where appropriate.

Mr Mountford – who lives in Carlton Colville and represents South Lowestoft on Suffolk County Council – said he was against mergers but agreed co-operation was required, while Mr Cocks said he was very concerned but acknowledged the budgetary benefits of collaborating, but highlighted perhaps the county had more in common with Essex and Cambridgeshire because of the A12 and A14.

Ms Basham, Mr Passmore and Mr Mountford all said they were capable of leading the position as the public desired rather than their party, while Mr Cocks said that the election should not be run on political lines at all.

All four agreed that the opportunity to speak to people about the elections was beneficial, as the national promotion of the election had not been good enough – with many people unaware it was taking place.

In Lowestoft on Tuesday, people were pleased to see the candidates out and about.

Vera Tills, from Oulton Broad, said the husting events and town centre walkabout were 'useful' for meeting the four candidates. Mrs Tills said: 'I wasn't aware of who was who, and while you can go on the website and see what each candidate wants to do, it is useful to have it here in Lowestoft.'

John, from Lowestoft, said he would 'definitely' be casting his vote.

He said: 'When you think about it Lowestoft, is not that bad and it is basically quite a nice town. I have lived here all my life and as long as the person elected does their job and keeps the police on their toes that will be good for me.'

People across Suffolk will get their chance to vote for their Police and Crime Commissioner on Thursday, when polling stations will be open across Waveney.

The commissioner will receive a salary of �70,000 and be charged with representing the interests of around 700,000 people as they control a budget of �125m.

?For more information on the clection and how and where to vote, visit www.waveney.gov.uk

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