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Five contest vote for new police role

The inaugural Sussex police and crime commissioner election takes place on Thursday – with five candidates fighting for the £85,000 a year job.

Around 1.5million people are eligible to vote later this week but sceptics are warning the turnout could be as low as 15 per cent as the public fails to be wowed by the prospect of choosing a new figurehead for the county’s police.

Whoever wins will take charge of a £250million annual budget and have the power to hire and fire police chiefs.

However, critics of the system say the estimated £100million spent on the elections across the UK would have been better earmarked for front-line policing.

All three main political parties are fielding a candidate and they will be urging traditional supporters to throw their weight behind them come Thursday.

The Conservatives, who dominate much of the Sussex electoral landscape, have chosen private investor Katy Bourne to fight their corner, after a high profile campaign by current East Sussex County Council chief Peter Jones fell flat with party voters.

Labour, which maintains some strong heartlands in the region, notably Hastings where it controls the borough council, have plumped for magistrate and former mayor Godfrey Daniel, while the Lib Dems will be hoping their last minute selection of Newhaven councillor David Rogers will bear fruit.

Outside the mainstream a raft of mooted independent candidates has withered to just one, Brighton’s Ian Chisnall.

The UK Independence Party (UKIP) makes up the quintet with their man Tony Armstrong.

The outcome is almost impossible to call because, being the first election of its type, there is no precedent from which to predict voter turn-out, but if the last Parliamentary elections are any indication, the Tory candidate may take some beating.

If you added together the voting results across Sussex at the last election, the Conservatives would lead the way with around 45 per cent, compared to the Lib Dem’s 27 per cent and Labour’s roughly 16 per cent. UKIP polled less than the five per cent Mr Armstrong would need to get his deposit back.

Each candidate has had to cough up a flat fee of £5,000 which is only returned if they get enough votes and there are also strict rules on how much can be spent on each candidate’s campaign, with an upper cap of just under £220,000 – a figure which perhaps explains the lack of independent voices willing to go toe to toe with the established heavyweight parties.

For information on where and when you can vote, visit www.sussexpcc.co.uk or call 0800 1070708.

 

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